The success of the host nation at any major event often guarantees an enthusiastic local following and that is exactly what Israel will be hoping for when it takes on top seed Japan in the wheelchair tennis quad final after beating South Africa at the World Team Cup in Ramat Hasharon.
Led by Noam Gershony, Israel won 2-1. The London 2012 gold medallist produced another fine opening singles rubber when defeating Donald Ramphadi 6-0, 6-3.
Former world No. 1 Shraga Weinberg made every effort to ensure his country’s place in the final, but despite being cheered on by the local fans he narrowly succumbed to Lucas Sithole 7-5, 7-5.
That set the scene for the all-important doubles decider, which saw Israel emerging victorious 6-0, 7-5.
In the other semi-final, Japan achieved a 2-1 triumph over Great Britain.
After Mitsuteru Moroishi had given Japan a 1-0 lead, world No. 3 Koji Sugeno lost to world No. 4 Andy Lapthorne 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 in two hours and six minutes. However, the Brits proved no match for the Japanese in the doubles, who won 6-2, 6-2 to qualify for the final.
Netherlands closer to their 31st title
The Dutch women’s team lost only four games between their two singles matches to secure qualification for the final once more.
World No. 7 Marjolein Buis beat Mariska Venter 6-3, 6-0 before No.1 Diede de Groot hammered Kgothatso Montjane 6-0, 6-1.
They will now face a strong Japanese team led by No. 2 Yui Kamiji, who beat Great Britain 2-1 in the semi-finals.
Jordanne Whiley gave the European team the first win after beating Manami Tanaka 7-5, 6-0. But Kamiji then defeated Lucy Shuker 6-1, 6-1 to send the tie to a deciding doubles. Japan finally prevailed with another 6-1, 6-1 victory.
The men’s semi-finals will be contested on Friday, with France facing Argentina and Japan playing against Great Britain.
Selected matches are being live streamed on the International Paralympic Committee homepage.