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Rivals see red over Cup payout

    Two of Israel's leading tennis stars almost came to blows over a pay dispute ahead of Israel's Davis Cup match against Canada.

    Dudi Sela and Andy Ram had to be pulled apart after it was discovered that the Israel Tennis Association (ITA) had agreed to pay Sela $30,000 for playing in the World Group promotion playoff at Ramat Hasharon, while Ram and the rest of the team received $22,000.

    A source close to the Israeli team said: "Ram and Erlich have plenty of money but it was the principle of the matter that bothered them.

    "This issue had a great influence on the spirit of the players and destroyed the concept of equality in the team."

    Israel were beaten 3-2 by Canada, missing the chance to return to the World Group.

    The issue destroyed the concept of equality in the Israel team

    ITA Chairman Michael Klein confirmed that Sela was the top earner. "We felt that the singles players are required to invest more effort than the doubles players. There may have been disagreements between the players because of this but you cannot say that this was the reason that Israel lost."

    As a result of the confrontation, the ITA has told non-playing captain Eyal Ran that he will be responsible for setting fees for Israel's next Davis Cup tie at home to Portugal next March.

    Meanwhile, Sela, who has slipped to 102 in the ATP rankings, will return to the top 100 after winning two qualifying matches to reach the main 64-player draw at the Japan Open.

    But Shahar Peer's miserable year continues. Ranked 11 just six months ago, Peer was beaten in the first round of the Beijing Open and will drop out of the top 30.

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