Sinai Says: Ran must make decision on Davis Cup squad

Israel's Davis Cup team will face Sweden in its first World Group tie in 14 years in 23 days time, and captain Eyal Ran still hasn't decided on the final makeup of his squad for the crucial matches at Ramat Hasharon. Barring any dramatic developments, Dudi Sela will be Israel's No. 1 singles player, and Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will play in the doubles, but as for the identity of the national team's second singles player Ran faces one of the toughest decisions of his career. Noam Okun has been an indispensable part of the team since 2001, playing in all of Israel's ties in that period and claiming crucial wins for the side. The 29-year-old raised his game time after time in the Davis Cup and undoubtedly deserves to play in three weeks time. Okun, however, has been struggling on the ATP tour lately, falling from No. 143 in the world to No. 287 in the last six months. He has barely won any matches in recent months and is looking nothing like the player Ran needs against Sweden's best. The problem for Ran is that not only is Okun on the decline, but Harel Levy is on the rise. Levy, who at his best in June 2001 was ranked as high as No. 30, has resurrected his career recently after recovering from a career threatening injury, rising from No. 324 in the world to his current ranking of No. 160 in the last 12 months. Despite losing in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, the 29-year-old proved that he's back in form after coming through three qualifying rounds in Melbourne. Adding to Ran's headache, Levy defeated Okun in the second qualifying round last week, proving that at the moment he's the better player. There's no reason to envy Ran. On the one hand, Okun has waited his entire career to play in the World Group and is one of the main reasons Israel will have the chance to do so in February. On the other hand, Ran must select the player that will give the team the best possible chance to get the better of Sweden and help it reach the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the second time in its history. "Make up your mind to act decidedly and take the consequences. No good is ever done in this world by hesitation," English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley once said. Indecisiveness in the coming weeks will only create unnecessary nerves and hurt Okun and Levy, who both believe they should play. With a mere three weeks to the tie, Ran should make his decision as quickly as possible, whatever it may be.