The Israeli tennis team has advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time, defeating the Russians at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.
Harel Levy and Dudi Sela gave Israel a surprising 2-0 lead by winning their respective singles matches. Levi defeated Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, while Sela, after losing the first set 3-6, came back with a vengeance to beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-0, 7-5.
The two wins set up a dramatic five-set match between Israel’s Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich and Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn and Marat Safin. Ram and Erlich, the 2008 Australian Open doubles champions, came out on fire, winning the first two sets 6-3, 6-4; however, the Russians, who won the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006, didn’t give up. Kunitsyn and Safin staged a comeback, winning the third and fourth sets 7-6, 6-4 before eventually succumbing to Ram and Erlich during the fifth and deciding set, 6-4.
The doubles victory July 11 gave Israel the clinching win over the Russians in the best of five series. The following day, although the series already had been won, Israel split two matches with Russia, placing the overall win at 4-1. The Israelis will take on Spain in the Davis Cup semifinals this September.