Russia choose low-ranked players for Davis Cup tie
Russia is set to include a pair of virtual unknown tennis players in its five-man team to play Brazil in a match that could see Russia drop out of the top tier of the Davis Cup for the first time in history.
Only one of the five players proposed by captain Shamil Tarpishchev for this month's World Group playoff match is in the top 50, with 31-year-old veteran Nikolay Davydenko ranked at No. 47.
Two-time champion Russia struggled to beat Brazil at home in the same fixture last year, coming back from 2-1 down to win on the final day, and now face a potentially difficult round in South America from Sep 14-16.
The other members of the proposed Russian team are 73rd-ranked Alex Bogomolov Jr., 100th-ranked Igor Andreev, World No. 119 Evgeny Donskoy and No. 127 Andrey Kuznetsov. None of the five are ranked in the top 100 for doubles.
Brazil can only draw one singles player in the top 100, World No. 40 Thomaz Bellucci, but the South Americans are stronger in doubles where they boast three top 100 men's players.
The 22-year-old Donskoy and the 21-year-old Kuznetsov could inspire the players to become Russia's next generation of top players, Tarpishchev said.
"Involving Donskoy and Kuznetsov in the Davis Cup match is a vital necessity," he said.
"Donskoy and Kuznetsov already need to start playing in the Davis Cup. After all this tournament's a big stimulus and the results will grow after it."
Tarpishchev did not say why Russia No. 1 Mikhail Youzhny, World No. 29, had not been included.
Youzhny lost in the first round of the US Open on Aug 29 in a five-set thriller against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.