Israel to face Canada for spot in World Group

Davis Cup Tennis: After last year’s losses to Chile and Austria, the national team found itself back in Europe/Africa Zone Group I for 2011.

Yoni Erlich Andy Ram_311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yoni Erlich Andy Ram_311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel’s Davis Cup team will have every chance of returning to the World Group after being drawn to host Canada in the playoffs on Wednesday.
After last year’s losses to Chile and Austria, the national team found itself back in Europe/Africa Zone Group I for 2011.
However, an impressive win over Poland in March booked its place in the World Group playoffs, and Wednesday’s home draw against a mediocre Canada team gives Eyal Ran’s men a tie they will be well capable of winning.
Ironically, the tie is set to take place at the Canada Stadium in Ramat Hasharon over the weekend of September 16-18.
Canada is set to be led by 20-year-old rising- star Milos Raonic, who only broke into the world’s top 200 last October, but is currently ranked No. 27, reaching the last 16 at the Australian Open in January before winning his first ATP title in San Jose.
However, like Israel, Canada’s squad only really has one world-class player to offer, with the country’s next best ranked player being No. 161 Frank Dancevic.
“This is the best draw we could have received,” said Andy Ram, who has won 11 of his past 12 Davis Cup doubles matches with Yoni Erlich, stretching back to 2005. “We are delighted to be playing at home once more. Our fans have proven in the past how special and fun they can make a tie and I’m sure it will once more be a great experience against Canada.”
Despite what he considers a favorable draw, Ram is expecting a tough time against the Canadians.
“All in all this is a difficult draw,” Ram said. “Raonic is a very tough singles player and Daniel Nestor has won every possible title in the doubles, including all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold. I consider the Canadians the favorites, but we have the advantage of playing at home.
We can defeat any team at home and I can’t wait for September to come around.”
Both Raonic and Dancevic missed Canada’s 3-2 road win over Ecuador last weekend, with the Canadians coming back from 2-0 down for the first time in team history thanks to Vasek Pospisil (192) and Philip Bester (236).
Raonic and Dancevic are also doubtful for the tie against Israel, with Raonic undergoing hip surgery after an unfortunate fall in the second round of Wimbledon.
“If we have him, all the better,” Canada captain Martin Laurendeau said after the win against Ecuador. “If not, the guys will have to seize the opportunity again, because it doesn’t come around too often.”
While Israel will be looking to return to the World Group for what would be its fourth appearance in five years, Canada will be hoping to book its place among the top 16 nations for the first time since 2004 and for just the second time since 1992.
Nevertheless, Amir Weintraub (211), who will be Israel’s No. 2 behind Dudi Sela (81) yet again, believes the Canadians have the edge over the blue-and-white.
“This is a tough draw, but it will be an amazing tennis experience at home,” said Weintraub, who won his Davis Cup debut against Poland. “I played Raonic last year and of course it won’t be easy to face him at Ramat Hasharon. We are the underdog, but having the crowd on our side improves our chances significantly.”