Davydenko left out of Davis Cup final singles

Updated: 2007-11-30 09:53

PORTLAND, Oregon - Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev sprang a surprise on Thursday when he omitted Nikolay Davydenko from the singles matches in this week's Davis Cup final against the United States.

Nikolay Davydenko of Russia hits a return to Fernando Gonzales of Chile at the Masters Cup tennis tournament in Shanghai in this November 16, 2007, file photo. Russia's team captain Shamil Tarpishchev, whose team face the United States in this weekend's Davis Cup final, compares his job to that of a national soccer team manager before an important World Cup or Euro qualifier. [Agencies] 

Tarpishchev, who has guided the Russians to two Davis Cup titles since 2002, said he had left out his top player, the world number four, for tactical reasons.

Dmitry Tursunov, ranked 34th in the world, will take on American number one Andy Roddick in Friday's first match at Memorial Coliseum.

Mikhail Youzhny, the world number 19 who was nominated by Tarpishchev as Russia's leading player for the three-day tie, will meet James Blake in the second match.

"It's very simple," Tarpishchev told a news conference after the official draw ceremony. "We have four equal players and the choice of Youzhny was made for tactical reasons.

"We have a strong team and they are all versatile," he added, speaking through an interpreter. "With this team, we have won two Davis Cups and we hope to do well again this week."

Davydenko's dismal career record of five losses to Roddick and six to Blake played a significant part in Tarpishchev's strategy, which was apparently relayed to his team only on Thursday.

"I learned only a couple of minutes ago at the draw ceremony," Tursunov said of his match against Roddick whom he beat in five thrilling sets in last year's semi-final. "It is the captain's Christmas gift to me."

Tursunov, who has a 1-2 win-loss record against Roddick, felt his victory on the clay of Moscow last year would have no bearing on this week's battle on a fast, indoor surface.

"It's going to be played on a totally different surface so it's going to be quite different," he said.

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said he had not been surprised by Davydenko's omission from the singles.

"Davydenko has been struggling a little bit with some injuries," he added. "I saw him playing in Shanghai and it seemed like his arm was still bothering him a little bit.

"One of the strengths of the Russians is that they have a lot of versatile players and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if we saw him (Davydenko) in the singles at some point over the weekend."

The team captains have the option to substitute a player up to one hour before the start of a match.

Saturday's doubles match will pit the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, against Davydenko and Igor Andreev, although the Russian line-up could be changed before then.

In Sunday's reverse singles, Roddick is scheduled to face Youzhny with Blake coming up against Tursunov.

Russia, who beat Argentina in last year's final in Moscow, have lost to the U.S. twice in three Davis Cup ties.

The Americans, winners of a record 31 Davis Cup titles, have not triumphed since 1995.

Draw for Davis Cup final between United States and Russia

Singles: Andy Roddick v Dmitry Tursunov, James Blake v Mikhail Youzhny Saturday, December 1, 1930 GMT

Doubles: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan v Igor Andreev/Nikolay Davydenko Sunday, December 2, 2000 GMT

Reverse singles: Roddick v Youzhny, Blake v Tursunov


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