Yoni Erlich, Andy Ram_311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel’s Davis Cup players are brimming with confidence regarding the team’s
chances of returning to the World Group playoffs after the blue-and-white was
drawn Wednesday to host Portugal in the second round of Europe/Africa Zone Group
I next year.
The national team’s dreams of playing in the World Group for
the fourth time in five years were dashed by Canada on Sunday, but Israel has
already got its hopes up of regaining a place among the world top-16 nations for
2013 after it was given a first round bye in next year’s Group I and was drawn
to face a mediocre Portugal side for a place in the playoffs.
led by Rui Machado, ranked No. 61 in the world, with Frederico Gil (100) the
team’s No. 2 player. Machado and Gil led Portugal to a 4-1 win over the
Slovak Republic in the first round of Group I this year, before being thrashed
5-0 by Roger Federer’s Switzerland in the second round.
some good players, but we need to beat them at home,” Andy Ram said.
really happy that we will once more be playing in front of the best fans in the
world. It will certainly be a very interesting weekend of tennis.”
Sela, who beat Gil in the first round of Wimbledon this year, is also confident
that the blue-and-white will be able to get the better of Portugal in what will
be Israel’s fourth straight home tie.
“This is a pretty good draw,” he
said. “They have two top- 100 players, but they both prefer to play on slow
courts. We can, and should, beat them at home.”
The Group I second
round ties aren’t scheduled to take place until next April, but with both Israel
and Portugal being given a first-round bye, their meeting will likely be brought
forward to the weekend of February 10-12.