Israel’s hopes of returning to the Davis Cup World Group were handed a boost on Tuesday when it was drawn to host Argentina in the playoffs over the weekend of September 12-14.
Israel will be hosting a Davis Cup tie for the first time in more than two years, and while it certainly won’t be the favorite against a team with five players in the world’s top-100, it will like its chances on the fast courts of Ramat Hasharon or Nokia Arena against Argentina’s clay court specialists, who will have to manage without Juan Martin Del Potro. The world No. 7 is set to be out at least until October after undergoing surgery on his left wrist last week.
“I’m happy that we are finally playing at home,” said Israel captain Eyal Ran after hearing the news from London. “We worked very hard to reach this opportunity to return to the World Group and I’m excited to begin our preparations for this tie. Playing at home is a big bonus for the Israeli tennis fans and our players will receive a massive boost. Argentina has excellent players and is ranked No. 4 in the world, but the Davis Cup is a special competition and anything can happen.”
In Del Potro’s absence, Juan Monaco (42) is Argentina’s No. 1 player, with Federico Delbonis (43), Carlos Berlocq (61) and Leonardo Mayer (87), giving captain Martin Jaite depth Ran can only dream of.
Argentina, which reached the semifinals last year but lost 3-1 to Italy in the first round in February, also has a top doubles player in Horacio Zeballos (41).
Israel is aiming to return to the World Group after a one-year absence following its 3-1 victory over Slovenia in Europe/Africa Zone Group I action on Sunday.