Netanyahu to Israel tennis team: You put Israel back on the map
Israeli doubles pair Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich complete upset victory over tennis giant.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Israel Tennis Association Director-General Moshe Haviv on Saturday and congratulated him on the Israeli national team's historic win over Russia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
"We are again on the map," the Prime Minister said. "You have filled the nation's heart with pride."
Israel won a place in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time ever Saturday after completing a stunning victory over tennis giant Russia.
Doubles pair Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich closed out a 3-0 series sweep for Israel in its quarterfinal against Russia, defeating Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn in five sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in front of a capacity crowd at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena.
The Israeli pair had the chance to finish things early when they served for the match in the third set, but were made to fight harder than expected after the Russians fought back to force the tie into a fifth and deciding set.
Ram and Erlich, the 2008 Australian Open doubles champions, said Saturday's win was the biggest moment of their careers.
"This is something I will cherish for all of my life," said Erlich, who recently came back from a 10-month injury layoff.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday telephoned Israel Tennis Association Director-General Moshe Haviv and congratulated him on the Israeli national team's win over Russia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
"We are again on the map," Netanyahu said. "You have filled the nation's heart with pride."
Israel took a surprising lead in the series on Friday after Dudi Sela and Harel Levy both won their singles matches.
Sela, who moved up 13 places to number 33 in the world rankings after reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon last week, came from one set down to beat former world number eight Mikhail Youzhny, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5.
Earlier, Levy, ranked 210 in the world, set the tone for the series when he upset world number 24 Igor Andreev, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Two-time Davis Cup winner Russia had made it to the semifinals in each of the past five years. In contrast, Israel had only reached the quarterfinals once before, losing to India in New Delhi in 1987.
Israel will play either Germany at home or Spain away in the semifinals, which take place on September 18-20.
The series between Israel and Russia will conclude Sunday with two singles matches that have been reduced to best-of-three sets, although the outcome of those matches will have no effect on the overall result.