By Fabrizio Gallas, Vitor Paula and Bárbara Galiza - Humility and serenity. That’s how Shamil Tarpischev presents himself. The Russian Davis Cup captain chatted with Tenis News and showed he respects Brazil ahead of the tie that will decide a slot in the World Group in 2012. The matches will be held in Kazan (Russia), in September.
Tarpishev, who has commanded the Davis Cup team since 1974 as well as holding the job of Fed Cup captain for 11 years, revealed he doesn’t know the Brazilian team completely. Still, the president of the Russian Federation complimented Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s number one and 34th in the world rankings:
“I know Brazil has an ambitious team and we have to keep both eyes open. In the time left till the tie in Kazan we will try to get more information about the Brazilian players — we have a good Tennis TV channel that delivers us videos from all important tournaments in the world. But I saw how good Thomaz Bellucci was in Madrid, the guy has a lot of potential”, Tarpischev said.
The Russian team won the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006 and, for the first time since 1992, might be out of the World Group. Brazil, on the other hand, hasn’t played in the tennis elite since 2003 and lost the last five times it played the play-offs.
“It is just inexcusable to think we have a mental advantage and my players understand that very well. As two times Davis Cup winners, they are experienced enough and have gone through thick and thin. The only advantage we have is we play at home. That way we have no problems with acclimatisation and, not to forget, the support of the home crowd is important too.”
Russia is having to fight to remain in the World Group because of the absence of players like Nikolay Davydenko, former top three and ATP Finals champion in 2009, and Mikhail Youzhny. They were both missing from the last tie, against Sweden, where the team of Dmitry Tursunov, Igor Andreev, Igor Kunitsyn and Teymuraz Gabashivili was defeated. Youzhny had said, according to the world press, that he wouldn’t play Davis Cup anymore. But Tarpischev denies the retirement of the current 14th in the rankings and first in the country.
“He had never said he would quit Davis. 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 Dasvis Cup. I will talk to him and surely he will play if he wants to.”
Another important member of the team, Davydenko, currently 29th in the world, is having an uneven season and was one of the absentees against Sweden. But Tarpischev doesn’t want to give up on him:
“We need him (Davydenko). But it will depend on his physical condition. If he’s ready to play, I will invite him. I think that the setbacks after his victory in Munich (in May) 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.”
The captain has no doubts about the chances of each team on the fast surface in Kazan.
“If we have all the best players on the team, I would see our chances at more than 50 percent. After all, we play at home and on the surface that we have chosen.”
This will be the first time Russia leaves Moscow to play a Davis Cup tie in 17 years. The boss of Russian tennis explains the choice:
We decided to play in Kazan because we have a new tennis center there. Kazan has a good tradition in many sports and we would like to give momentum to the development of tennis in the capital of Tatarstan”, said Tarpischev.
The training center in Kazan has 14 outdoor courts and 8 indoor courts. The complex is going to be used for tennis and badminton at 2013’s Universiade. It also boasts a vast infrastructure to nurture young talent. The Kazan center has hosted a few Challenger events – both men’s and women’s – and now awaits its biggest sports event.