okun davis cup 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel's preparations for this weekend's Davis Cup tie against Luxemburg officially got underway Monday morning, when the team held its first training session ahead of the Europe/Africa Zone Group I first round meeting at Ramat Hasharon.
Noam Okun, who is ranked 168th in the world, will be Israel's number one player, with Dudi Sela (173) number two. Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will be expected to deliver a win in the doubles match, against what is at least on paper an extremely weak Luxemburg duo.
"The Davis Cup is very special," Ram said at a press conference on Monday. "It's always exciting to play in front of the fans in Israel. "We haven't started the season very well, but we believe in ourselves ahead of this tie."
Gilles Muller (115), who is Luxemburg's only player ranked in the world's top 1,000, recently dropped out of the world's top 100.
"We are not sure in what shape our opponents are in, but we need to focus on ourselves," Israel captain Eyal Ran said. "We need to trust our form and concentrate on what we need to do to win.
"We're facing a quality team with a former top-50 singles player. We may be the favorites, but we will only progress with the help of the crowd and if we play well."
The winner of this weekend's tie will face Italy in April for a place in the World Group playoff.