Saturday 17 September 2011

Davis Cup: Israel-Canada, Day 1

Well, well, well. This was a day of unexpected results in the ISR-CAN Davis Cup tie, as both lower ranked players defeated those in the top 100.

The first match - Dudi Sela vs. Vasek Pospisil - was quite horrible, to be frank. There were lots of errors on both sides (but especially from Sela), too many double faults, many unnecessary breaks of serve. The crowd did all it could to lift Sela up, and for parts of the match it worked. However, he completely disintegrated in the third set, losing it 6-1 (after splitting the first two sets, 6-7 7-6), despite the momentum he should have had after winning the second set. The fourth set was better, as he managed to break back, take the set to another tiebreak, and win it forcefully (7-2). Sela even led by a break in the deciding fifth set, but once again went away, eventually losing it 6-3.

No doubt, it was disappointing. Sitting in the stadium for 5 hours (the match was 4:56 hours long), cheering your heart out for a player whom you witnessed beating Bellucci in five sets just two weeks ago... and then see him lose. At this point, all hope looked lost for Israel, as Milos Raonic was the heavy favourite against Amir Weintraub.

The second match was a different story altogether. This was high quality tennis, with some truly incredible points, and many winners. Of course, Raonic's serve is quite amazing to see in real life. I wish there was a speed camera to see how fast some of those were. However, Amir was serving extremely well himself - he started the match with 2 aces (on of them on second serve, if I'm not mistaken). When it came to rallies, Raonic had the edge at first - it was obvious who's the top-30 player on the court (well, 31, but let's not nitpick). He took the tight first set 7-5, after Weintraub got broken serving at 5-5. But as the match drew longer, the momentum shifted. Raonic, who was playing his first competitive match since Wimbledon (after being sidelined with a hip injury and operation), became more tired and didn't move as well as before. Amir, being cheered on by the small crowd that stayed on the stadium (it was about 9 pm already, when the tie started at 2pm), kept his nerves, went for his shots, drew some mistakes from Raonic and took the second set 7-5.

From that point on, the match continued in a similar way, and Weintraub clinched the rubber, taking the next sets 6-3 6-1, breaking Raonic's serve three times in the fourth set. I started out a "Happy birthday to you" song among the people standing in my section of the stadium, but it didn't catch up too well, until the court announcer invited everyone to wish a very happy birthday to Amir :)

(Photo: Nir Keidar)

I'm leaving for the doubles match soon, hoping for some good results for Israel there, as well. It is unclear which of the Canadian players will pair up with the experienced Daniel Nestor - Pospisil is probably very tired, playing the first full five-setter of his life yesterday, both he and Raonic need their energy for tomorrow's matches, and Peter Polansky is ranked well below any other player on any of the teams. We'll just wait and see!

More pictures here.

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