KAZAN, RUSSIA: There were no surprises at the draw for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie between Russia and Brazil was held in Kazan on Friday with the hosts' top gun Mikhail Youzhny drawn to open up against Ricardo Mello, followed by Igor Andreev against the visitors’ highest-ranked man Thomaz Bellucci.
"We didn't have too much time to get ready for this particular tie, study film, look into our opponents form and things of that nature,” explained Youzhny. “Everybody just got back from the US Open where everybody had their own agenda. We do know a thing or two about their style of play, but the Davis Cup is such an unpredictable tournament."
Bellucci did meet his opponent Andreev a couple of years ago in Gstaad with the Brazilian prevailing in straight sets. The world No. 38 even almost got the score right: "I think it was 64 64 (it was a little closer than that - 64 75), so I feel pretty confident, but still, that was two years ago and we were playing in completely different conditions."
The 23-year-old is referring to the tie being played on hard court of course, while the Brazilians are known to excel on clay. That, along with the home crowd, is one of Russia's obvious advantages that comes from hosting the play-off.
On paper, it looks like 1-1 is the likely outcome after day one of the tie - a prediction shared by Russia's captain Shamil Tarpischev: "It would be fair to assume we'll be tied after that opening Friday, and I don't think anyone would call that a bold prediction."
For Tarpischev, the place of the tie is certainly a special one, as he is of Tatar descent, and helped found the tennis academy there, which is the first and only specialised tennis venue in Russia and one of the best in Europe.
This is just the second time Russia has hosted a Davis Cup tie outside of Moscow since 1994 when the quarterfinal against the Czech Republic was played in St. Petersburg. And with the support of the local crowd (Kazan has lately become somewhat Russia's sports capital with multitude of major professional teams and top-notch facilities being built for the upcoming Universiade 2013), the hosts are looking to redeem themselves after their first round exit at the hands of Sweden.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v Ricardo Mello (BRA)
R2: Igor Andreev (RUS) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
R3: Igor Kunitsyn/Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) v Ricardo Melo/Bruno Soares (BRA)
R4: Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
R5: Igor Andreev (RUS) v Ricardo Mello (BRA)
Live scores of this tie will be available on the Davis Cup website, and live radio commentary of the World Group semifinals will also be broadcast.
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) - 15/09/2011