EILAT, ISRAEL: Poland and Croatia will play for the right to earn a play-off place for World Group II after securing victories on Friday in their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Eilat on Friday.
The clashes could not have been more contrasting, however, as the Croats cruised through Pool A, registering a third win, this time over a below strength Belarus side as youngsters Anna Konjuh battled past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 67(3) 64 62 and Donna Vekic needed all her of her formidable power to overcome Ilona Kremen 61 76(2).
They wrapped up the doubles when Darija Jurak and Tereza Mrdeza beat Lidziya Marozava and Sasnovich 63 76(2). Captain Iva Majoli was full of praise for her players.
"They have been playing perfect tennis, they are very mature ... but it's Fed Cup and whatever happens, we will give everything," Majoli said.
The Poles scraped past Israel after a thrilling doubles that went the distance and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats late into the night, with the final points struck at 10.40 p.m.
Israel's No. 2 player, Julia Glushko, ranked at 174 in the world added a third scalp in three ties when she beat Urszula Radwanska 64 64. Elder sister Agnieszka, the world No. 4, leveled the tie with a 62 63 win over Shahar Peer, but the real drama unfolded in the doubles when all four players returned to court and traded blows in a match that will live long in the memory of the packed stadium of spectators that witnessed it.
The Israelis rode the wave of support and won the first set 64 but faded in the second to lose it 63 and the final set had some thrilling exchanges in the final set with all four players losing their serve as momentum swayed from side to side.
Agnieszka eventually needed a sixth match point on her serve before closing out the tie but the applause after the match was mainly for the losing duo, who did their best and entertained the crowd to the very end.
"I think I played well, I was consistent and I didn't have downs which is great, I have had a wonderful week," Glushko said, although she admitted that she was disappointed at not being able to win the doubles.
Turkey, who finished bottom of the pool will face Georgia, who were bottom of Pool A after losing to Austria.
Bulgaria, Great Britain and Hungary emerged as the favoured sides after they played their second ties in early action.
Interest in the event will continue a day longer than planned and play in Pools B and D will end on Sunday because a thunderstorm delayed their start from Wednesday to Thursday.
Britain and Hungary have set up a grandstand finish in pool B. The Hungarians swept Bosnia/Herzegovina with Timea Babos starting out strongly against Jelena Simic 60 76(5) and Greta Arn made easy work of Dea Herdzelas 63 62.
Babos then wrapped it up with Katalin Marosi in the doubles, beating Herdzelas and Anita Husaric 75 64.
The British challenge faltered a little when Heather Watson went down to Michelle Larcher de Brito 61 64 after Laura Robson finished off Margarida Moura 62 61 in 64 minutes. Robson and Watson then teamed up to clinch the tie with a convincing 62 61 demolition of Larcher de Brito and Joana Vale Costa.
Portugal and Bosnia will meet each other on Saturday to determine which of the two will be assured of remaining in Europe/Africa Group I, while the losers will have to face the bottom team in Pool D, where Luxembourg currently have the weakest record, after losing both ties so far, and without their top player, Mandy Minella.
Luxembourg came up against Bulgaria who swept to victory without the loss of a set. Elitsa Kostova beat Laura Correia 61 63, Tsvetana Pironkova beat Anne Kramer 61 64 and Dea Evtimova and Isabella Shinikova beat Laura Correia and Tiffany Cornelius 62 62. The other Pool D tie, between the Netherlands and Slovenia was a clean sweep for the Dutch, although their chances of advancing took a serious dent after they lost 3-0 to Bulgaria on Thursday.
Friday’s consolation win saw Arantxa Rus beat Andrea Klepac 46 63 64 and Richel Hogenkamp beat Tjasa Srimpf 62 60, the Dutch then won the doubles by a walkover.
Follow all the action here: Live scores
Click the link below for more information about Europe/Africa Zone Group I, including individual results from each tie.
- Europe/Africa Zone Group I
Julia Glushko (ISR) - 08/02/2013
Donna Vekic (CRO) - 08/02/2013