Nadal Could Greet Israelis in Spain

After receiving three deferrals from the International Tennis Federation, Spain's tennis governing body announced Wednesday it had chosen the southeastern city of Murcia to host its Davis Cup semifinal match against Israel, to be held September 18 (Rosh Hashanah eve) through September 20.

That same day, Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal, currently ranked second in the world behind his arch-rival Roger Federer, announced he would compete in next week's Montreal Masters, a decision that makes his participation in the Davis Cup match more likely.

Nadal has been largely out of commission since his surprise defeat at the French Open, struggling with a recurring case of tendinitis in his knee.

"I always take the Davis Cup into consideration," Nadal told the Spanish daily Marca. "If I feel good, I'll play in Montreal, in Cincinnati, at the U.S. Open and of course, at the Davis Cup." Asked about his squad's prospects against the visitors, Nadal answered frankly, "Let's be realistic. In our own home, we're not supposed to lose to Israel."

Murcia, a city of one million that lies 400 kilometers from Madrid, beat out the northern Spanish city of Burgos to host the tie. The matches will be played on clay at Murcia's 12,000-seat stadium.

If history is any indication, the venue is not kind to visitors. The last time the Spaniards played there, nine years ago, they routed Italy 4-1.

Sela no match for Hewitt

Israel's best and brightest failed to impress this week, as its top-ranked men's player, Dudi Sela, fell 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 to Australian Lleyton Hewitt at the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, DC, while Andy Ram and partner Max Mirnyi were eliminated by India's Mahesh Bhupathi and the Bahamas' Mark Knowles, 7-6, 2-6, 10-8.

Shahar Peer, the country's top female player, did little better, stumbling against Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 at the WTA Los Angeles Championships the same day. And Harel Levy was ousted from competition at the ATP Challenger tournament in Vancouver, failing to capitalize on a stellar first set to lose 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 to Tim Smyczek of the United States.