Davis Cup: Israel preps for tie with Austria

National team is desperate to maintain its place among the top-16 nations for a fourth straight season.

Davis 311 (photo credit: Photo Gadi)
Davis 311
(photo credit: Photo Gadi)
Israel’s Davis Cup captain Eyal Ran believes next week’s World Group playoff tie against Austria will be a crossroads for the national team.
The three-day tie at the Nokia Arena will begin next Thursday, a day earlier than the other encounters, due to the fact Yom Kippur falls on Saturday.
The first two singles matches will be played on the opening day, with the doubles clash to take place on Friday morning and the reverse singles to go ahead as usual on Sunday.
After advancing to the World Group three years ago for the first time since 1994, Israel is desperate to maintain its place among the top-16 nations for a fourth straight season, especially when considering the age of Andy Ram (30), Yoni Erlich (33) and Harel Levy (32).
“We know this tie is a crossroads for this team,” captain Ran said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The age of the players means they have more experience, but it also affects their play.”
Austria, which is competing in the World Group playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, is led by the excellent Jurgen Melzer, who is currently ranked at a career-high No. 15 in the world.
However, he is his team’s only top-100 player, with Martin Fischer (130) likely to be the Austrians’ No. 2.
The visitors are struggling with injuries, with Stefan Koubek (138) and Ram’s ATP Tour doubles partner Julian Knolwe (24 in the world) both expected to miss the Israel tie.
Nevertheless, Israel No. 1 Dudi Sela (95th in the world) knows the Austrians will be extremely difficult to beat and he is hoping the blue-andwhite will have the backing of a full Nokia Arena in its first tie since beating Russia in the quarterfinals last summer.
“All our players are in pretty good shape,” Sela said. “I’m always excited ahead of Davis Cup ties, especially when we are playing in front of our local fans who help us raise our level of play.”