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Israel back for Davis Cup playoffs

    Israel booked their place in the Davis Cup World Group playoffs after beating Poland at Ramat Hasharon.

    They moved into an unassailable 3-0 lead before Poland won the two dead-rubbers in the singles.

    Having only been relegated from the World Group last year, Israel will be seeded in the strong half of the 16 nation draw in July.

    Israel started the match as strong favourites with Poland's top two players Michal Przysiezny (113) and Lukasz Kubot (128) out injured. Dudi Sela (86) swept aside Marcin Gawron (362) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 before Davis Cup debutante Amir Weintraub (257) produced a truly heroic performance. The 24-year-old beat Jerzy Janowicz (150) in a five set thriller 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3.

    Weintraub said: "It was a fantastic atmosphere. The crowd did the work for me."

    Doubles specialists Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich began as underdogs against Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg, seeded ninth in the world doubles rankings. Ram and Erlich lost the first set 4-6 but buoyed by the vociferous home support, they rallied to recapture their former winning formula, taking the next three sets. This was Ram and Erlich's ninth successive Davis Cup home victory.

    Ram said: "This win has made up for all the lousy stuff over the past two months. All credit to Weintraub who was thrown in at the deep end and swam as if he was Mark Spitz."

    Sela showed no appetite for the meaningless reverse singles and lost 6-7, 4-6 to Janowicz while Weintraub withdrew from the match against Gawron due to injury.

    Israel's captain Eyal Ran said: "We are a new team with Amir Weintraub showing that he is a worthy successor to Harel Levy and Noam Okun, who have retired. The way Amir played against Poland showed that we can talk seriously about returning to the world group."

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