On his 26th birthday, Amir Weintraub gave himself and Israeli tennis a great gift - a victory over his higher-ranked opponent, sending Israel back to the Davis Cup World Group at the expense of host Japan.
After an important win for the Israeli Davis Cup team on Friday, Weintraub advanced to the next game against Go Soeda knowing that the fate of the team's effort against the Japanese team lay on his shoulders, after Dudi Sela's efforts against Kei Nishikori ended in a five-set defeat (6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 ).
Weintraub wasn't intimidated and once again became the team hero by beating Go Soeda in four sets (6-3, 7-6 (5 ), 4-6, 6-3 ) and returning Israel to the World Group. The draw for the 2013 World Cup is being held today in London.
"Every year my birthday is better than the year before," Weintraub said Sunday. "Last year I beat Milos Raonic and now we made it to the World Group."
He said Israel was lucky that the rain stopped play during his match with Soeda. "In the third set my muscles were really sore," Weintraub said. "Afterward I really gave it all I've got; I had nothing to lose. When you see Andy play injured, giving his heart and soul to the game, and after seeing Dudi give it all he's got for five hours, we had to advance. Now I want Spain and Nadal in Tel Aviv's Nokia Stadium for a tennis event never before seen in Israel."
The team captain, Eyal Ran, added: "It was amazing to play here. We did all we could, and every person who went on the court was a hero. This is Davis Cup tennis. We still haven't fathomed what we've accomplished, this is an amazing achievement. We deserve our place in the World Gr oup."
Israel will draw one of the following potential opponents: Argentina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Serbia, Spain, the U.S. or Uzbekistan.
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