Tennis / Davis Cup / Israel Drops Just One Set in Easy 3-0 Victory Over Portugal

Sunday's final two rubbers will be played for the record alone.

There is an eternal dilemma facing sports fans: Is it better to crush one's opponent with a far superior display or for both sides to play well and for victory to be sealed after a dramatic duel?

Israel's Davis Cup team appears to have solved that problem once and for all, after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead over Portugal in the second round of the Europe/Africa Zone Group I Davis Cup tie in Ramat Hasharon over the weekend. Sunday's final two rubbers will be played for the record alone.

Nir Keidar

Next up for Israel will be either Belgium or Great Britain in the final playoff match. Victory in that tie will see Israel promoted back to the World Group for the first time since 2010.

Israel's victory, which was smooth and convincing, highlighted the technical skills of all four members of the team.

The tie started off on Friday with Dudi Sela, currently ranked 61st in the world, beating Frederico Gil in straight sets. Sela romped to victory without having his serve broken even once. "I changed my serve around a little," Sela explained after the win. "I added a little spin, but the main thing that helped me was the fast pace of the games."

Next up was Amir Weintraub, ranked 199th in the world, against Rui Machado - who is ranked almost 100 places above him. Weintraub, 25, was drafted into the Davis Cup squad a little over a year ago and proved yet again that he is up to the task. Six months ago, he beat the world number 30 - Canada's Milos Raonic - in a dramatic four-set thriller. On Friday, Weintraub lost the first set (5-7 ), but stormed back to take the next three (6-3, 6-1, 7-5 ) and secure a comfortable 2-0 overnight lead for Israel.

Saturday, it was the turn of doubles specialists Yoni Erlich and Andy Ram - known collectively as AndiYoni. Without playing exceptional tennis, the veteran pairing was still too good for its Portuguese opponents, Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias. Once again, the Israelis didn't lose a set on their way to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Despite the Passover holiday, the Canada Arena at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center was full on both days of competition, proving that the love affair between the Israeli public and its Davis Cup team is still going strong.