Davis Cup: Rus, Arg set for final battle

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/D/Daviscup.jpg' class='caption'> Nikolay Davydenko, the highest-ranked player in the Davis Cup final, will face the lowest-ranked man Friday in the opening singles match.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Nikolay Davydenko, the highest-ranked player in the Davis Cup final, will face the lowest-ranked man Friday in the opening singles match when Russia plays Argentina. Juan Ignacio Chela won't be too concerned with the rankings, however. The 33rd-ranked Argentine has beaten Davydenko, ranked third, all five times they have met. "I'm very confident and ready to fight tomorrow and win. Davydenko likes to play short points. I like to change rhythm and that's what bothers him," Chela said on Thursday after the draw. Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin will face David Nalbandian in the second singles match, while Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny play Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri in Saturday's doubles. The reverse singles of the best-of-five series are Sunday. Team captains can change their lineups up to one hour before play. "Three players are very similar in terms of rankings and have very good conditions and shape - that is another point that I took into consideration," Argentina captain Alberto Mancini said of his choices. Chela has beaten Davydenko three times on clay and twice on hardcourts. Friday's match will be on synthetic carpet at the Olympic Stadium. "There is now way Calleri or (Jose) Acasuso can beat me on this surface. That's why Chela was nominated," Davydenko said. Chela is 2-1 on carpet in the Davis Cup, including beating Sasa Tuksar of defending champion Croatia in five sets in this year's quarterfinals. Safin, Nalbandian face off Safin is 6-2 against Nalbandian. In the 2002 semifinals, the Russian beat Nalbandian in four sets to help his team reach the final, where Russia won its only Davis Cup title after downing host France. They played two matches this season - both on hardcourt. Safin won in the second round of the US Open, and Nalbandian won in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters. "When he (Safin) plays well, he can beat anyone, including me. I'm ready for the best," Nalbandian said. Safin has been plagued by knee injuries for almost two seasons, but he's better now and looking for a Davis Cup title to help boost his confidence. "It took me six months to learn to run around the court without feeling pain and I dropped in the rankings and lost my confidence. So to win this title is probably the most important thing for me in the past two years," Safin said. Russia, which hasn't lost at home in 11 years, is making its fourth appearance in the final. It lost to Sweden in 1994 and to the United States the following year. "I do not know when will we have another chance to play in the final. Me and (Mikhail) Youzhny have already won, but for the other half of the team it's a first opportunity," Safin said. Argentina has never won the trophy, but it lost in the final to the United States in 1981. If Argentina wins it will become the 13th champion since the competition's inception in 1900 and the sixth different winner in as many years. The Hawk-Eye video system, which allows players to review and challenge calls, is making its Davis Cup debut in Moscow after being tested at several ATP events. (AP)

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  • Nikolay Davydenko
  • Tennis

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