RAMAT HASHARON, ISRAEL: Canada took a 2-1 lead by winning the crucial doubles rubber on Day 2 of their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off 46 63 64 64 against Israel in a tight match that lasted more than three hours.
Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich, a duo that has been almost a dead certain point for the hosts in the past, started well against Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil, but the tennis was less than inspiring at times and the match that had the potential to produce fireworks never really caught fire.
But after their bright start it was all downhill for the Israelis, and Erlich in particular, as Nestor, 39, and Pospisil, 21, began the slow task of going about building a solid foundation for what would eventually become a vital victory that should give Canada a huge boost towards securing a place in next year's World Group when the tie resumes on Sunday with the reverse singles rubbers.
For the Ram-Erlich duo it was a first Davis Cup defeat at home since March 2005 when they lost unexpectedly to a young and inexperienced duo answering to the name of Andy Murray and Dave Sherwood.
Erlich began the match as the best player on court as the Israelis took a late break to win the opening set 6-4. But once that set was over, Erlich's form began to fade and with it went Israel's chances.
"I started really, really well, everything went really, really smoothly. We were controlling (the match) and I felt that I was the best guy on the court, serving and returning, but on 2-all (in the second set) they broke us and from then on my (ability waned)," Erlich said.
He added that his poor serving form, usually one of his strengths was a difference. "When you begin struggling with your best shots your mind is not clear, and it was tough to come back. They didn't give us any presents so well done them," Erlich said.
The Canadians rode the momentum for the rest of the match and eventually closed out the win, needing a fifth match point in the final game of the encounter on Pospisil's serve when the match finally came to light with some exciting exchanges and a raucous crowd trying to help the home players break back.
"It was a good match, very solid, we fought hard and we both played tough, it was tough out there," Nestor said.
The reverse singles should pit Canada's No. 1 Milos Raonic in the first rubber on Sunday against Dudi Sela, and Israel still feel they have faint hopes of levelling the tie after the upset victory by Israeli No. 2 Amir Weintraub over Raonic on Friday. Pospisil and Weintraub are expected to contest the final rubber between both No. 2s.
- Follow this tie: Live Scores
Jonathan Erlich (ISR) - 17/09/11
Daniel Nestor (CAN) - 17/09/11
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) - 17/09/11
Andy Ram (ISR) - 17/09/11