Tennis: Obziler keeps Safarova in Czech

With the reserve singles and possibly a doubles match to be played on Sunday, the tie is now drawn at 1-1.

Obziler 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Obziler 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Tzipi Obziler's superb 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 win over Lucie Safarova capped an afternoon of upsets at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center on Saturday and kept Israel in contention in its World Group Playoff tie against the Czech Republic. With the reserve singles and possibly a doubles match to be played on Sunday, the tie is now drawn at 1-1, after Shahar Pe'er had completely the opposite experience to her fellow countrywoman in the first match of the tie. Israel needs a victory over the Czechs to return to the World Group where it lost against Russia two months ago. Despite winning the first set 6-3 against the far less experienced Petra Kvitova (100) in relatively easy fashion, Pe'er (19) capitulated later in her match, losing the second two sets 6-3, 6-0. There had been a ten minute break after the first game of the third set after Pe'er experienced stomach pains and went off to receive treatment. She came back rejuvenated, but not for long enough and eventually lost the final set to love. The atmosphere at the tennis center's Canada Stadium was markedly less tense than during the tie against Maria Sharapova's Russia in February, but the third-full arena still held a crowd of supporters eager to encourage the players and boo the perceived bad calls of the umpires. In the end the fans were on their feet clapping a cheering, delighted at the 98th-ranked Obziler winning in the 59th Federation Cup match of her 11-year career against an opponent ranked 58 places above her. Obziler told reporters she believed it was "one of the top three" matches of her career. "It is a lovely feeling to win here at home and to know we are now 1-1 at the end of the first day," she said. Czech captain Petr Pala admitted that he was "surprised" by Obziler's play considering her low ranking, and did not expect her to hold on to the end. His counterpart Oded Jacob said he knew "all the matches are battles" and was satisfied with the result at the end of the day. Pe'er, meanwhile, was in despondent mood after her surprising loss to Kvitova. "My tactics worked well in the first set but not in the second and third. My health situation is an answer as to why this happened, but not the answer. In any case, I didn't do my work," Pe'er said. The Israeli had begun well although somewhat carelessly, breaking Kvitova in the fourth game but only after giving up a 0-40 lead to deuce. The rest of the set went Pe'er's way and she broke in the eighth game to take a 1-0 lead when Kvitova hit the ball into the net. The first point of the second set appeared to set the tone, with Pe'er slamming an ace down the center of the court. But she was broken in the second game and her opponent pushed on to take the second and then the third set and the match. "If I had taken my opportunities it would have been a different situation because even in the first set it was a close match," Pe'er added. Speaking at the press conference Kvitova appeared a little overwhelmed by the attention and the need to speak in English to the Israeli media. "I was very nervous in the first set and I didn't know Shahar's game. But I quickly calmed down and felt much better later in the match," she said. Reflecting on the result against a much more experienced and higher ranked star, Kvitova said: "Shahar is a very good player and a win is very good for me. I like playing in the Fed Cup and I want our team to advance."