Tennis / Fed Cup / Israel Casts Aside Canada

Peer and Obziler put team one step away from Top Eight.

Shahar Peer defeated Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 6-0 last night to give Israel an unassailable 3-0 lead over Canada in their World Group II tie in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Needing to win to keep the hosts alive in the contest, Wozniak was the first to b reak serve. However, she was unable to consolidate the break, and soon Peer had broken twice to take the first set.

The second set was a one-sided affair, as Peer ran out a 6-4, 6-0 winner to notch her 11th straight Fed Cup win and take Israel just one match away from being among the top eight women's tennis nations, for the first time.

Peer and Tzipi Obziler had given Israel a stranglehold on the tie on Saturday.

Peer defeated Stephanie Dubois 6-4, 6-4 in just under 90 minutes in the opening round, after which Obziler took a dramatic three-set thriller over Canadian No. 1 Wozniak 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

"My experience helped a lot," said Obziler, who turned 34 last week and was playing her 56th tie for Israel.

"I just kept believing that I could win right until the last point, and I think that was the difference."

"It was a big battle out there today, and it was a few games that made the difference. Otherwise it was a really close match," Wozniak said.

Russia, Italy and France reached the semifinals yesterday with two matches to spare.

Russia beat Spain 5-0 to guarantee a spot in the last four, while defending champion Italy did the same to China and France shut out Japan.

The United States is also close to advancing, leading Belgium 2-0 after Saturday's singles in the best-of-five series

Israel will now play in the World Group I playoffs, which include the losing teams from World Group 1 and the winners from World Group II.

Israel's possible opponents are China, Spain, Japan, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Australia and the winner of the Belgium-U.S. tie.

The playoffs take place on July 14 and 15.