Kristine L Ming

Israel defeats South Africa to advance in Davis Cup

Israel claimed its first road victory in Davis Cup action in almost four years on Saturday, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat South Africa 3-2 in the first round of Europe/Africa Group I at the Irene Country Club in Centurion.

Israel next visits the Czech Republic, which received a first-round bye, over the weekend of April 6-7 in the second round, with the winner to advance to the World Group playoffs.

Edan Leshem clinched the blue-and-white’s triumph with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Nicolaas Scholtz in the fifth and decisive rubber on Saturday after Israel unexpectedly trailed 2-1 following a defeat in the doubles encounter.

Israel entered the weekend without a win away from home since triumphing 3-1 in Slovenia in the second round of Group I in April 2014. That was also the last time Israel made it past the first round of Group I, losing on the road in the opening round to Romania, Hungary and Portugal over the last three years.

The national team only secured its survival in Group I thanks to a victory over Romania last October, triumphing 5-0 at Ramat Hasharon to ensure it avoided relegation to Group II for the first time since 2001.

After Leshem, ranked No. 254 in the world, suffered a 7-5, 6-4 loss to South Africa’s top player, Lloyd Harris (289), in the opening match on Friday, Sela (97) tied the score with a 6-1, 6-7 (1), 7-5 win over Scholtz (325).

Sela teamed up with Yoni Erlich in the doubles encounter on Saturday, but the two dropped to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse, leaving Israel within a single defeat of another disappointing setback.

Under the Davis Cup’s new rules, all Group I and II ties this year are being held over two days instead of three, with matches being played in a best-of-three sets format rather than best-of-five.

That meant Sela only had a short break after the doubles before returning to the court to face Harris. The Israel No.

1 looked tired in his third match in 24 hours, but came through with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory, winning two singles matches in a Davis Cup tie for the first time since the World Group first round encounter against Sweden in 2009. Leshem then secured Israel’s place in the second round, and at the very least another year in Group I.

BDS South Africa, together with several anti-Israel organizations, held a picket outside the match venue. But protesters didn’t do much to disrupt the tie, apart from impeding traffic and shouting as fans entered the venue.

Article source: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Sports/Israel-defeats-South-Africa-to-advance-in-Davis-Cup-540614

Leave a comment for: "Israel defeats South Africa to advance in Davis Cup"

You must be logged in to post a comment.