Israel beats Belarus to finish on a high note

Blue-and-white end Eilat event with win after failing to advance with loss against Poland.

shahar peer370 (photo credit: Reuters )
shahar peer370
(photo credit: Reuters )
Israel’s Fed Cup team ended its Europe/Africa Zone Group I campaign in Eilat on Saturday in 5th-6th position after dramatically missing out on advancing to a tie for a berth in April’s World Group II playoffs the previous day.
The national team defeated Belarus 2-0 on Saturday in the positional playoffs, ending its matches in Eilat on a sweet note after suffering a heartbreaking loss to Poland on Friday.
Julia Glushko, ranked No. 181 in the world, recorded an impressive 6- 4, 6-4 win over Urszula Radwanska (37) before Shahar Pe’er (91) dropped to a 6-2, 6-3 loss to world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska.
The tie came down to the doubles encounter, the winner of which would finish Pool C in first place after Romania suffered a surprise 2-1 loss to Turkey in Friday’s other pool showdown.
Pe’er and Glushko gave the Radwanska sisters a real fight, but ultimately lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at 10:40 p.m.
and ended the pool in second place.
On Saturday, Glushko made it four wins in four singles matches in Eilat with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Lidziya Marozava (575) and Pe’er clinched the tie with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Ilona Kremen (243).
“I’m disappointed,” said Israel captain Amos Mansdorf after Friday’s loss to Poland. “Our girls were just as good as the Poles and fought like lions and it’s a shame we lost.”
Glushko found some consolation in the form she displayed in Eilat.
“I think I played well, I was consistent and I didn’t have downs which is great, I have had a wonderful week,” Glushko said.
Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal’s comeback continued to gather pace on Friday, with the Spaniard advancing to the semifinals of the clay event in Vina del Mar, Chile with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
The 26-year-old Nadal, whose playing in his first tournament in seven months, faced France’s Jeremy Chardy in the semis late Saturday and will continue playing on his favorite clay surface at two other Latin American events this month, the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo next week and the Mexico Open in Acapulco from February 25. Nadal also announced on Saturday that he has set up his own company to manage athletes and organize events with his long-term agent Carlos Costa.
“Together with his manager, Carlos Costa, Rafa Nadal began a new adventure on January 1 in the world of representing athletes of various sports like tennis, golf and football as well as organizing events,” Nadal’s spokesman said in a brief emailed statement.
Nadal was previously represented by US-based firm IMG, for whom Costa also worked.
He earned $25 million in endorsements last year from companies including Kia Motors and Nike, according to Forbes, putting him equal 16th on the magazine’s list of the world’s highestpaid athletes ( list/ list/> ).
IMG spokesman Jim Gallagher confirmed Nadal’s contract with the company had expired at the end of 2012.
“We are very happy for Rafa and we wish him the best of luck,” Gallagher said by telephone from New Jersey.
“We hope to do a lot more business with him in the future,” he added.
Nadal is the second high-profile tennis player to leave IMG in recent months.
Roger Federer, the world No. 2, and his agent Tony Godsick both severed ties with the firm last year.
Reuters contributed to this report