Yshai Oliel is set to make his Davis Cup debut for Israel today, with the 17-year-old to face Portugal’s No. 1 Joao Sousa after surprisingly being nominated as the blueand- white’s No. 2 player for the Group I tie in Portugal. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After reaching the Junior Boys’ final at the Australian Open over the weekend, Yshai Oliel is set to make his Davis Cup debut for Israel on Friday, surprisingly being nominated as the team’s No. 2 player by captain Eyal Ran for the Group I tie in Portugal.
The 17-year-old will face Portugal’s No. 1 Joao Sousa, ranked No. 41 in the world, in the opening rubber on Friday before Dudi Sela (75) plays Gastao Elias (76) in the second match of the day on the indoor clay court in Lisbon.
Oliel received the unexpected call up due to Amir Weintraub’s shoulder injury, with Idan Leshem also being ruled out, being replaced by Daniel Cukierman.
Yoni Erlich and Cukierman were nominated to face Sousa and Elias in Saturday’s doubles showdown, although Israel captain Eyal Ran could well decide to replace Cukierman with Sela depending on Friday’s results.
Oliel, who rose to No. 4 in the ITF Junior rankings following his progress to the final in Melbourne and is placed at No. 928 in the ATP rankings, got his first taste of the Davis Cup experience last October, defeating Sweden’s Markus Eriksson 6-4, 6-4 at Ramat Hasharon.
Israel had already secured a victory over Sweden and another year in Group I by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead and Ran and his counterpart Fredrik Rosengren agreed that instead of the fifth rubber an unofficial match would be held instead, allowing Oliel to play even though he wasn’t named in Israel’s four-man roster.
Oliel impressed on that occasion, but faces a baptism of fire when he plays Sousa on Friday.
The reverse singles will be played on Sunday.
Israel lost its place among the top 16 nations with the playoff defeat at Belgium in September 2013 and needs to win three ties, beginning with the encounter with Portugal, to regain its place among the competition’s elite in 2018.
The winner this weekend will play Ukraine in April for a place in the World Group playoffs in September.
While Israel has won the last three ties it has hosted at home, not losing in Israel since falling to Canada in the World Group playoffs in September 2011, it hasn’t been as successful on the road, winning only one of its past five away ties since the start of 2013.On TV: Davis Cup tennis: Portugal vs Israel (live on Sport5 at 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday)