Russia and Brazil will clash in September for a place in next year´s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group. The historic Russian Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishev, who first held the post 37 years ago, has been talking to the Brazilian journalist Fabrizio Gallas of tenisnews.com.br about his feelings ahead of the play-off.
The tie will be played in Russia but, for the first time in 17 years, the Tatar city of Kazan, and not Moscow, will host the event. “We decided to play in Kazan because we have a new tennis center there that will be used during the Universiade 2013. Kazan has got good traditions in many sports and we would like to give momentum to the development of tennis in the capital of Tatarstan. By the way, I'd like to remind you that me and Marat Safin are of Tatar origin,” clarified Tarpischev.
The Russian captain considers Brazil a difficult rival and mentions a number of factors that make the South Americans a tough opponent. “I know that you (Brazil) have a young and ambitious team. I saw how good Thomaz Bellucci was in Rome, the guy has a lot of potential. Of course all the young talented players can spring a surprise in every moment.”
However, Tarpishev also admits that he lacks knowledge about some of the young members of the Brazilian Davis Cup team. “In the time left till the tie in Kazan we will try to get more information about Brazilian players. We have a good Tennis TV channel that delivers us videos from all important tournaments in the world.”
On the home front, the Russian Davis Cup team is facing two important uncertainties. Firstly, the availability, or not, of its No. 1 player Mikhail Youznhy after the speculation about his possible retirement from Davis Cup. “He has never said so,” denies Tarpischev. “I think that Mikhail, as a veteran of the national team, can decide when and where to play. But it doesn't mean that he has retired from Davis Cup. I will talk to him and surely he will play if he wants to.”
The second potential issue for the Russians is the fitness of its No. 2 player Nikolay Davydenko. The 2009 ATP World Tour Finals champion, currently the world No. 39, is going through a very difficult season plagued by injuries. “I think that the setbacks after his victory in Munich can be explained by fitness problems and lack of confidence. He will get his game back soon if he regains his physical condition and is free from injuries,” said Tarpischev.
The uncertain availability of Russia´s two most important players highlights the lack of new blood that Russian tennis is suffering from. However, the fact that there are no young alternatives to the current successful generation does not seem to concern Tarpischev. “A real talent is a real rarity. But I am optimistic. We have good juniors. Statistically we are holding our leading positions in European junior tennis over the last six years. If we get some financial support from the state, the future of the Russian tennis will be safe and bright.”
Lastly, the Russian captain analysed the chances of both teams ahead of September´s tie and underlined the importance of having his two most important players in the team. “If we have all the best players, I would see our chances being more than 50 per cent. After all, we play at home and on the surface that we have chosen.”