Israeli tennis star Julia Glushko.
(photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
There were no major upsets at the Israel national tennis championships in Ra’anana on Tuesday, with Julia Glushko the first to book her place in the semifinals.
Glushko, ranked No. 154 in the world, received a bye into the last eight and wasn’t at her best in a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over Fed Cup teammate Keren Shlomo (1,079).
Glushko awaits the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Deniz Khazaniuk (380) and Alona Pushkarevsky.
“When I woke up this morning I felt a little pressure because I hadn’t taken part in a tournament in two months,” said Glushko, who is targeting her third title in four years in Ra’anana. “I have no idea who I can play in the semis, but this is a good preparation for Australia. It is a fun way to begin the season and prepares you for tougher competition.”
Glushko declared last year that her goal for 2014 was to break into the world’s top-50. However, she regressed rather than progressed, winning just three WTA Tour main draw matches all year long.
“I’m disappointed with how 2014 unfolded,” she admitted. “But I’m really motivated to improve on that and I have worked hard in recent weeks. I’ve already been in the top-100 and I know I can get back in.
“There wasn’t one single reason which caused my decline. It was a process. Perhaps I took some bad decisions with my tournament scheduling, but I have corrected that in the upcoming season.
I had a lot of ups and downs, but that is part of the game.”
Shahar Pe’er (117), who missed last year’s championships through injury, will enter the competition on Wednesday when she plays Shir Hurnung in the last eight.
In another quarterfinal on Wednesday, last year’s finalist Ofri Lankri faces Esther Masuri. Lankri beat 16-year-old Ukrainian Jew Olga Fridman, who is considering moving to Israel, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Tuesday.
Fridman is currently ranked at No. 673 in the world and was placed as high as No. 12 in the ITF Junior rankings earlier this year.
“We are talking to Olga, her family and her agent all the time to try and convince her to play for Israel,” said Israel Tennis Association CEO Shlomo Glickstein. “At the moment we are only talking, but I hope that these efforts will prove worthwhile and that they will soon move to Israel on a fulltime basis.”
The men’s No. 1 seed Dudi Sela (99) is the overwhelming favorite to defend his title in Ra’anana, with Davis Cup teammate Amir Weintraub still out through injury. Sela had little trouble advancing to the quarterfinals on Tuesday, beating 47-year-old former professional Oren Motovassel 6-2, 6-1.
“I think 2014 was the most consistent year in my career,” said Sela.
“I played really well until the Davis Cup and was ranked in the top-70. My plans slightly changed after the Davis Cup tie against Argentina but I ended the year well and I’m ranked inside the top-100.
“I have trained well and I’m feeling good ahead of the new season. I hope it is better than the last one.”
Next up for Sela is a meeting with 20-year-old Oran Reznik (1,473) who edged Daniel Tintyarov 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Bar Botzer (867), who showed some promise in Israel’s recent Davis Cup defeat to Argentina, progressed to the last eight with a 6-4, 7-6 (7) win over Igor Smilansky. He will play 17-year-old Edan Leshem (1,221) on Wednesday.
The promising teenager beat Emil Savelyev 6-4, 6-4.
In other quarterfinal action, Dekel Bar (791) plays Daniel Cukierman (1,356), while Ben Patael (1,153) comes up against Gilad Berman (1,587).