Israel’s tennis team fell to Argentina in Davis Cup play Sunday, losing two matches in a row and allowing the South American squad to snatch a come-from-behind win 3-2.
Newcomer Bar Tzuf Botzer couldn’t overcome Carlos Berlocq’s dominant play in the fifth and final match of the tennis tourney Sunday, losing 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 in straight sets.
Earlier in the day, Dudi Sela lost to Leonardo Mayer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 at the Sunrise Tennis Center in Florida, tying the match at two apiece and putting Israel’s fate in Botzer’s hands.
Argentina, ranked fourth in the Davis Cup, will now have a chance to win the 2015 Davis Cup, advancing to the 16-team World Group. Israel, ranked at No. 19, cannot win next year’s Cup and will be relegated to the World Group II.
Mayer was dominant against the 84th-ranked Sela, winning every service game. He served out the match by getting three aces and one service winner in the final game.
Israel had come into the day winning 2-1, partially on the strong play of doubles partners Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, who played their last match together Saturday.
Erlich and Ram defeated Argentina’s Federico Delbonis and Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in 91-degree heat.
Ram pulled a muscle in his left leg with Israel leading 4-2 in the fifth set, and was forced to serve ever-so-slowly in the final game of the match.
Argentina hammered his weak serves, but Erlich managed several successful volleys to help his team get the win.
“There were missiles coming at me,” Erlich joked. “I tried not to get killed.”
The event was originally a home match for Israel in Tel Aviv. But the International Tennis Federation moved it to Florida because of safety concerns.
In Friday’s action, Mayer beat Botzer, and Sela defeated Berlocq.
Erlich and Ram improved 19-5 when playing Davis Cup together, making them the best doubles team in their nation’s history. Ram, 34, announced earlier this year that this would be his final season of pro tennis.
Erlich, 37, was born in Argentina, and Ram is a native of another South American country, Uruguay.
Ram wept on the court after the match and then his teammates tossed him in the air in celebration.
It has been 24 years since Argentina has come back from a deficit to win a Davis Cup tie.