SAO JOSE DO RIO PRETO, BRAZIL: Brazilian No. 2 Rogerio Dutra Silva will take on the Russian No. 1 Igor Andreev in the first rubber of a tie that is being considered by the host team as one of the best chances they have had in some years to return to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group. Both teams faced each other at the same stage last year and Brazil are keen to avenge their 3-2 defeat.
The draw also pitted Brazil’s best hope Thomaz Bellucci against Teymuraz Gabashvili in the second match on Friday. He was not in the first list of nominees sent by the Russian Federation but is delighted to have been included.
“I do think I have better chances of winning Thomaz on day one. He is the best player of the tie, but he is going to come with a little more pressure in the second rubber and also without his best rhythm,” said the Russian No. 2. “I am also used to this weather since I live in Miami, so Thomaz is my only concern in this match.”
Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo are going to face Alex Bogomolov and the newcomer Stanislaw Vovk on Saturday. Vovk is a surprise choice by Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev, who could not bring his top two players to Sao Jose do Rio Preto as they are not fully fit.
The draw was held under a high temperature of 39 degrees at Harmonia Tenis Clube, an indication of the forecast of the three days of play to come. Brazilian captain Joao Zwetsch thinks hot weather is an advantage against the Russian side especially because it comes with the support of the local fans, largely known for their loud voices.
“Of course the hot weather is better for us, because we are used to it. But the main part is probably going to be played by the crowd. If they come and support us, I am really sure we are going to make this arena look like a ‘hot pot’ and the Russians will have some difficult times facing that. Now is our best chance of reaching the World Group and I think our time has come,” said Zwetsch.
Brazil have tasted defeat in each of their last six World Group play-off ties and are battling to reach the world tennis elite for the first time since 2003, when former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten was still part of the team. Last year, the South Americans were a point away from promotion twice before Bellucci lost to Russian Mikhail Youzhny 14-12 in the fifth set of the fourth rubber and let the chance escape.
Bellucci has showed some good results on clay courts this year and raised the trophy in Gstaad after beating Top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic.
The Brazilian No. 1 suffered with the heat in Chennai during the World Group play-off tie in 2010 and had to retire against Indian Somdev Devvarman, but he played a big part in their Zone Group victory over Colombia early this year at the same venue.
“We have played in almost the same conditions here last April and we have been practicing here since last Saturday. I think we are very adapted to the weather and the court as well,” said Bellucci.
Even Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev said this time they seem to be underdogs and did not show much confidence after the draw.
“We are complete underdogs. They have great doubles, clay is the best surface for Bellucci and Brazil is the clear favourite. And there is also this hot weather and the support of the crowd which play a good part in a tie like this,” he added.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) v Igor Andreev (RUS)
R2: Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) v Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
R3: Marcelo Melo / Bruno Soares (BRA) v Alex Bogomolov Jr / Stanislav Vovk (RUS)
R4: Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) v Igor Andreev (RUS)
R5: Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) v Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS)
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) - 13/09/12
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) - 13/09/12
Alex Bogomolov Jr (RUS) - 13/09/12
Bruno Soares (BRA) - 13/09/12