Amir Weintraub (above) was upset in the semifinals of the Israel national tennis championships yesterday, losing in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1 to 21-year-old Daniel Cukierman (inset)..
(photo credit: ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Daniel Cukierman ensured there will be a new face in the final of the Israel tennis championships on Friday after stunning Amir Weintraub in the semifinals in Ra’anana on Thursday.
The 21-year-old Cukierman, ranked No. 530 in the world, claimed a 6-4, 6-1 win over Weintraub (231), who had at least reached the final in every national championship in which he participated since 2009.
Weintraub, who missed the 2014 tournament due to injury, faced Dudi Sela in all six of his finals, but this year it will be Cukierman playing the Israel No. 1.
Sela, ranked No. 96 in the world, defeated Davis Cup teammate Edan Leshem (409) 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday.
“I’ve idolized Amir all my life and he coached me for eight months,” said Cukierman. “Facing Dudi is a landmark for me. He is someone I look up to. I hope there will be a new national champion tomorrow.”
Sela is targeting his fourth consecutive national title on Friday and seventh overall in his career.
“It wasn’t easy to play Edan and I’m happy I managed to advance,” said Sela. “It is important for me to win the final. I didn’t mind losing in the early rounds, but I don’t want to lose in the final.”
There is guaranteed to be a firsttime winner in the women’s tournament, with No. 1 seed Deniz Khazaniuk (247) to face Maya Tahan (1,222) in Friday’s final.
With Julia Glushko preparing for the new season in New Zealand and Shahar Pe’er spending more time training for running a marathon than on the tennis court, Khazaniuk is a clear favorite to claim her maiden national title. Khazaniuk beat Valeria Nikolaev (1,088) 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday, while Tahan continued her surprise run with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Ofri Lankri (1,046).
“I will do everything to win and we’ll see what Maya has to offer,” said Khazaniuk. “I would have expected myself to win the tournament even had Julia and Shahar been here.”