Israel No. 1 Dudi Sela is hoping to still be smiling at the end of this weekend’s Davis Cup Europe/Africa Group I second-round tie against the Czech Republic in Ostrava.
(photo credit: PAVEL LEBEDA/CESKA SPORTOVNI)
After ending a drought of almost four years without a Davis Cup road win, Israel looks to make it two away victories in two months when it faces the Czech Republic in the second round of Europe/ Africa Group I in Ostrava on Friday and Saturday.
Israel is aiming to return to the World Group playoffs for the first time since 2014, which was also the last time it won on the road until overcoming South Africa 3-2 at the Irene Country Club in Centurion at the start of February.
Israel had lost in the first round of Group I in each of the previous three years and enters this weekend’s tie with little pressure, knowing its Group I status is secure for at least another year even should it fall in Ostrava.
The Czechs will be the favorites, especially as the tie will be held on an indoor clay court Israel’s players are unaccustomed to playing on.
The hosts will have to manage without their No.
1 player Tomas Berdych, ranked No. 18 on the world, and like Israel only have one player ranked inside the top- 200 on their squad, in Jiri Vesely (65).
The Czech team also includes: Adam Pavlasek (208), Vaclav Safranek (233), Lukas Rosol (242) and doubles expert Roman Jebavy (57 in doubles).
The Czechs are playing in Group I for the first time since 2006 following a 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands last September. It is just the second time it has competed at this level since the introduction of the World Group in 1981.
Israel captain Harel Levy nominated Dudi Sela (98), Edan Leshem (276), Yshai Oliel (570) and Yoni Erlich (86 in doubles). Sela and Leshm are once more expected to play in the singles, with the former also likely to team-up with Erlich in the doubles.
The order of play for the matches on Friday and Saturday will be determined in a draw on Thursday.
Under the Davis Cup’s new rules, all Group I and II ties this year are being held over two days instead of three, with matches being played in a best-of-three sets format rather than best-of-five.
That means Sela may once more need to play three matches in 24 hours, with the opening day to include two singles matches as before, while the second day will begin with the doubles match to be followed after a short break by the two reverse singles