NEW YORK — Fans of Israel tennis gathered yesterday at the US Open to watch Israelis in action in back to back matches on court 13. Shahar Peer lost in three tough sets to Croation Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. But Dudi Sela, ranked 83 in the world, came from behind after dropping the first set in 17 quick minutes, to defeat Argentinian Carlos Berlocq, 63 in the world, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
Sela closed out the match after a disputed call on match point. On Friday Sela plays the second match of the day at the Louis Armstrong Stadium at 1 pm against Grigor Dmitrov, the 7th seeded. Dmitrov has twice beaten Sela in previous match-ups. This is their first time playing together on a hard court.
After the 2 hour, 43 minute match Thursday, the good-natured Sela signed many autographs and spoke to an unusually large gathering of media at the near midnight press conference.
Members of the Argentinian media inquired about the upcoming Israel versus Argentina Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie, September 12-14, 2014. The Davis Cup matches, scheduled to be played in Israel, were recently relocated to the Sunrise Tennis Club in Sunrise, Florida (USA) due to the lengthy Operation Protective Edge and rockets shot into Israel.
Sela said Israel’s Davis Cup team will consist of Sela, Andy Ram, Jonathan Erlich and Amir Weintraub.
Given Weintraub’s injury, there was speculation that he might not play. There was also speculation that Ram would only play if the Davis Cup was held in Israel.
“Ram and Erlich are playing together and have been practicing every day. Jonathan didn’t get in to the US Open, though he wanted to,” said Sela.
Sela reports Weintraub is recovering well. “Amir hits the ball very hard, has a good serve and can be aggressive… Hopefully he can win his match. He has the support of the team behind him.”
Israel has also named 18-year-old Tal Goldengoren, 696 in world, and 20-year-old, Bar Botzer, 742 in the world, to the Davis Cup team as reserves.
While Sela acknowledges Argentina is favored to win, he notes, “We have a chance. We will be 100% fit and we will give 100%. We will have a lot of support.”
“There are a lot of Jewish people who will come from Florida and Israelis may come down from New York,” said Sela, who feels the move to Florida was “a fair decision.” He admits regretfully, however, “if it was in Israel, it would be unbelievable. Every match is full of people!”
Israel faces Argentina for the first time since 1990 in this World Group play-off tie. Argentina won the two previous meetings.