Look Ahead to Semifinals
07, 2002, Sports Palace "Luzhniki", Moscow, RUS, by
With Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin both electing to recover
from their night of celebrations, Russia was forced to call
upon its reserve guard for dead rubber duty in Moscow today.
In fact Kafelnikov was conspicuously absent courtside as Russia
went on to complete a 4-1 victory over Sweden in their Davis
Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal tie.
Swedish No. 1 Thomas Johansson overpowered 19-year-old Mikhail
Youzhny 6-3 6-4, before Andreas Vinciguerra was forced to
retire with a back injury against Andrei Stoliarov, with the
score at 4-6 5-2 in the Russian's favour.
For Johansson, the win came as a timely boost at the start
of the punishing European clay court circuit. "I was
disappointed after yesterday's doubles, but I really wanted
to win this match against a good player such as Youzhny. Normally
you only practise on clay for a couple of days after the hard
court season, so this has been the best preparation for all
Afterwards Swedish Captain Carl-Axel Hageskog gave some indication
that he might be ready to step down after a successful eight
years at the helm. He said: "I have a feeling like a
very good dinner. There is a little bit still on the plate,
but I am satisfied. If we can find someone who can take over
from me, then I would be happy."
Russian thoughts have already turned to the Davis Cup semifinals
in September, and a likely home clash with Argentina, who
are expected to complete a quarterfinal victory over Croatia
in Buenos Aires later today.
Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev admitted that the surface
for the semifinal tie would "not be a slow one",
with carpet the most likely choice for a clash with the clay-loving
Argentines. The Russians have been so happy with the reception
they have received at the Luzhniki Sports Palace, that they
have spoken of returning here in September rather than electing
the more cavernous surroundings of the Olympic Stadium, the
traditional home of Russian Davis Cup tennis.
Yesterday the talk was all about retirement, with Kafelnikov
confirming his intention to call it a day should Russia become
only the 11th nation to capture the coveted Davis Cup trophy
in December. "You think I'm joking about retirement,
but I'm serious about it," he told the assembled press
after Russia's memorable doubles victory. "Tennis fans
should come and watch the next tie against Argentina, as each
time there will be fewer chances to see me play at home."
The Russian No. 1 has long spoken of his wish to bow out
whilst still at the top of his game, and had some strong words
to say about Pete Sampras following the American's surprise
singles defeat by Alex Corretja on grass in their quarterfinal
tie against Spain. "I think Pete should think of quitting.
His loss (in Houston) should tell him something and I think
it is a disrespect to himself to keep playing."
Only time will tell whether the outspoken Kafelnikov is prepared
to lead by example, and the winners of today's Argentina-Croatia
clash will want to have their say in the matter come September.