| Safin: Twisted right ankle
Malmo: Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman will face Mark Philippoussis in the opening singles of the Davis Cup world group quarter final tie with Australia Friday. Thomas Enqvist, the former world number four, takes on world number one Lleyton Hewitt in the second match on court.
However, Russia could be without their number one player Marat Safin for the opening singles matches of their quarter final vs Argentina in Buenos Aires, adds a report from Moscow.
He twisted his right ankle in Miami two weeks ago and aggravated the injury earlier this week while practising.
Swedish Davis Cup captain Mats Wilander said the order of play was not important. “The draw in itself is quite uninteresting,” Wilander said. “On one hand it’s good that Lleyton Hewitt doesn’t play first, that means he doesn’t get to steer the result. But then if Australia are down after the first match, it will pump him up to play at one hundred percent.”
Bjorkman and Enqvist will also team up for the doubles Saturday against Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs.
The two Swedes have never played together before in Davis Cup doubles.
Enqvist did not take part in Sweden’s 3-2 win over Brazil in the first round in February. He has struggled to hit peak form this year, winning just four matches, after recovering from a shoulder injury.
In the reverse singles on Sunday, Bjorkman takes on Hewitt, followed by Enqvist against Philippoussis.
Australia, the favourites ahead of the tie, have won six of their previous eight meetings with Sweden, including a 4-1 victory when they last met in the semi-finals in 2001. “It will be a tough match between two good teams,” said Australia captain John Fitzgerald. “(But) we’ve got four good players so I think we'll end up winning 3-2.”
Safin decision awaited
Russian skipper Shamil Tarpishchev said from Buenos Aires where they play Argentina: “It’s highly unlikely that he (Safin) will play on the opening day. We shall see how he will feel tomorrow before making a decision, but my guess is that he won’t play until Saturday’s doubles at the earliest.”
If Safin cannot play, Tarpishchev will have to rely on former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mikhail Youzhny or Nikolay Davydenko against the home team, eager to avenge their semi-final defeat by Russia last September.
Safin, 22, led his country to their first Davis Cup title by winning both of his singles matches in a dramatic 3-2 victory over holders France in Paris last December. But he missed Russia’s first round tie against the Czech Republic in Ostrava in February with a wrist injury.
In Toulouse Switzerland have named George Bastl as their second singles player for their quarter final vs France. Bastl will start against French number one Sebastien Grosjean on Friday, while undisputed first choice Roger Federer will take on Nicolas Escude.
The 28-year-old Bastl, currently ranked 174 in the world, last year knocked 14-times Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras out in the second round of Wimbledon after only qualifying for the tournament as a lucky loser.
Swiss captain Marc Rosset had hinted he might play himself following the withdrawal of injured Michel Kratovchil. But the former Olympic champion finally picked himself to play doubles with Federer.