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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Readies for Davis Cup

Twice finalist in the 1990s, Russia heads into this week's Davis Cup quarterfinals hoping destiny will finally be on its side.

But if the Russians are to clinch a maiden title and send Yevgeny Kafelnikov into a happy retirement, they will have to do something they have never done before and beat a team of Swedes.

Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev is again relying on Kafelnikov, Marat Safin, Mikhail Youzhny and Andrei Cherkasov to see his side through on a specially laid indoor clay court at Luzhniki Sports Palace in front of an expectant home crowd.

Certainly, former U.S. Open champion Safin believes it must finally be Russia's turn to lift the silverware.

"Come on, we are playing everything at home. Every match is going to be in Moscow," he smiled when asked about Russia's chances this year.

"Yevgeny wants to retire. But he wants to retire only in the case that we are going to win the Davis Cup. I have told him I am going to play my best all year and I will give him a present.

"And I think it's the perfect way to retire, being still up in the top 10, and you're just retired. That's going to be perfect, winning the Davis Cup."

Certainly, Kafelnikov has made no secret of his desire to win the men's team competition before he hangs his racket up.

"Davis Cup keeps me going as I want to win it badly before I retire," the former French and Australian Open champion said earlier this year.

"I want it so badly that it puts pressure on me," Kafelnikov added. "I have won majors so there is nothing left to prove there, but the Davis Cup remains the main focus. I'm really looking forward to the match with Sweden."

But it will be no pushover, home advantage or not.

Sweden is spearheaded by the newest Grand Slam champion, Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson. Johansson beat Safin in the final in Melbourne and is a fierce competitor.

He will be ably supported by Thomas Enqvist, Jonas Bjorkman and Andreas Vinciguerra.

The Russian team does have the edge on paper but the Swedes are renowned for their Davis Cup spirit and their challenge will be formidable.

They are also fourth on the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking -- two rungs ahead of their quarterfinal opponents.

Johansson is ninth on the Entry System with Enqvist at 19.

Unlike the Russians, both have won titles this year -- Johansson in Melbourne, while Enqvist triumphed in Marseille.

Since then, Safin has struggled to find the form that brought him the U.S. Open title in 2000.

Kafelnikov, too, has still to make his mark on court this year.

But the host nation will have plenty of motivation. It has lost to Sweden in all four of its previous Davis Cup meetings, including last year's quarterfinal in Malmo.

The winning nation will play either Argentina or Croatia for a place in the 2002 Davis Cup Final.