After a promising start to the Israel-Canada tie, with Amir Weintraub's win over Milos Raonic, the meeting ended up on a disappointing note for Israel.
The point we've been counting on - the doubles match - ended with a defeat, as Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich lost 6-4 3-6 4-6 4-6 to Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
I've arrived a bit late to this match, and managed to get into the stadium when AndYoni were leading 4-3 (on serve) in the first set. After breaking and taking this set, the crowd (which filled almost the whole stadium) was very optimistic about the match, but things went downhill from there. Still, even as they lost the second set, I felt that the crowd didn't do enough to energize the pair - as if everyone was confident that they'll pull out the win.
Unfortunately, Erlich & Ram couldn't capitalize on any of the 4 break points they had in one of the games of the third set, and eventually lost it too. The Canadians broke again in the fourth set, and at 5-4, Pospisil served for the match.
At this point, the crowd finally woke up. The cheering was ear-splitting, and the Israelis saved 4 match points, and had 3 break-back points in a very long final game. That didn't stop the guests, who eventually finished the match on the 5th match point.
The third day started with a match between the confidence-lacking Dudi Sela and Canada's replacement player, Peter Polansky, who came in instead of Milos Raonic. The match wasn't too pretty to watch, but Dudi showed occasional flashes of his talent amid all the baseline-slugging points. He ended up winning it with the nice score of 6-3 6-3 6-3, sending the tie to a deciding fifth match.
As expected, the last match was tight and much more enjoyable to watch. However, this too resulted in a Canadian win, as Pospisil beat Weintraub 6-2 7-6(3) 6-4, to promote Canada into the World Group. Amir was close to taking the second set - he was serving for it, had a set point, but a questionable call robbed him of it (according to those who were watching on TV, the call was wrong, but I didn't see it myself), and he eventually lost that game. Generally, the line calls often seemed wrong during the whole day, and I do wish we could afford to bring in Hawk Eye for those matches.
To sum up the tie, I think that Israel can be very proud of Amir, who had the best win of his career on Friday (even if Raonic wasn't in form). The crowd obviously loved him, and cheered for him a lot even after his loss in the last rubber.
Even more so, Canada should be extremely proud of Pospisil. I've watched him before - first against Federer in Montreal, then live at the US Open against F. Lopez - and I've been impressed then, already. But this performance was something else entirely. He spent a huge amount of hours on court, and still played his best game - wonderful serve, great forehand, and a clear mind. You really need nerves of steel to be able to serve as he did, against a very hostile crowd, for three days in a row, and I was especially impressed with his play during that last game of the doubles match. Many better players could have crumbled under the pressure of missing so many match points, but he stood up admirably, and pulled Canada through almost single-handed. Watch out, top 100, he's coming for you fast.
More pictures from those two days are on the blog's facebook page.