Israel all set for big cup test


TENNIS - Boosted by his Wimbledon performance and a record ranking of 33, Dudi Sela leads the charge as Israel hosts Russia in the Davis Cup quarter-final in Tel Aviv.

Having reached the last 16 at the Grand Slam, Sela said: “It’s very big for Israeli tennis and I’m very excited to play.

“Israel will have 10,000 people screaming every point, and although Russia are favourites, I believe in the Israel team. It’s very important to be united and I think we have a chance.”

Aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first time, Israel’s only last eight appearance was in 1987. Non-playing captain Eyal Ran is confident of success. He said: “We’re the underdogs but our team are in a winning mood.”

Injuries to Nikolay Davydenko (11) and Dimitry Tursunov (25) mean that the Russians are less formidable than expected. They will field two from Igor Andreev (24), Igor Kunitsyn (35), Marat Safin (60) and Mikhail Youzhny (69).

Jonathan Erlich has fully recovered from injury and will partner Andy Ram in the doubles. “People always expect us to win our match,” said Ram, “and I’m confident we can deliver.”

It is hard to see Harel Levy (210) winning either of his singles’ games but cheered on by crowd at the Nokia Arena, Sela is capable of causing another upset. Moreover, Sela now seems to have overcome his opposition to switching the tie from Ramat Hasharon to the larger Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. He said, “The surface is great and the size of the stadium makes you realise how important this tie is.”

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