An injured Shahar Pe’er.
(photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Israel’s Fed Cup team will have to manage without Shahar Pe’er when it faces Croatia in Budapest, Hungary on Wednesday in its Europe/Africa Zone Group I Pool D opener.
Pe’er injured her left ankle during her first round doubles match at the Australian Open two weeks ago and only returned to the practice courts last Thursday.
She was a full participant in Tuesday’s training session in Budapest, but captain Amos Mansdorf decided not to risk her for the Croatia tie, with the team to be in action on Thursday and Friday as well.
Keren Shlomo, ranked No. 1,100 in the world , will take Pe’er’s place (113), with Julia Glushko (146) to be the team’s No. 1 player. Alona Pushkarevsky (1,148) is currently slated to play with Glushko in the doubles match.
Despite her recent progress, 20-year-old Deniz Khazaniuk (361) is not in the squad once more after falling out with Pe’er and Glushko and attacking them in an interview she gave three years ago.
Donna Vekic (84) and Ana Konjuh (99) lead Croatia, which is captained by former Roland Garros winner Iva Majoli.
Israel will also face Belgium and Latvia on Thursday and Friday, respectively, and will have to top the pool and overcome the winner of Pool A to progress to the World Group II playoffs in April.
With Belgium being led by Kirsten Flipkens (59) and Yanina Wickmayer (66), Mansdorf’s women seem to have little hope of winning their group regardless of Pe’er’s fitness.
The blue-and-white’s main target will be to avoid last place in the pool, with the bottom- placed nation to contest a playoff of which the loser will be relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2016.
“This is a very tough group,” said Mansdorf. “In order to dream of reaching the World Group we will have to overcome some very strong teams like Belgium and Croatia.”