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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Faces France in the Davis Cup

Defending champion Russia will aim to maintain its 24-year winning streak against France in their Davis Cup clash starting Friday. It is the pairs' third Davis Cup quarterfinal matchup in as many years.

Russia beat France to win its first title in 2002 and again in the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006. Russia went on to win its second title last year against Argentina, while France hasn't beaten Russia since 1983.

"In all three matches, the Russians were stronger and they are clear favorites now," France captain Guy Forget said of the quarterfinals. "I think that Russia now has the best Davis Cup team in the world."

Led by two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin and world No. 4 Nikolai Davydenko, the Russian team will also include the 17th-ranked Mikhail Youzhny and Igor Andreyev.

Davydenko and Youzhny missed Russia's 3-2 first-round win against Chile in February. But Andreyev beat Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu to save Russia from an early exit.

"They didn't send their best team and even then they beat Chile, which is very hard at home," Forget said. "It's one of the strengths of the Russian team that they have so many players that are so consistent."

Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev has all his top players fit to appear, though they have had little time to adjust after all being in Miami for last week's Sony Ericsson tournament.

Tarpishchev said circumstances conspired to put the Russians under pressure: "We feel a great responsibility right now," he told the Sovietsky Sport newspaper. "First of all, we are playing at home; secondly, we have already beaten the French three times in a row.

"It's very bad that we will have to play practically immediately after the tournament in Miami," he added. "We will need to solve acclimatization problems."

Guy Forget is likely to choose either Paul-Henri Mathieu or Sebastien Grosjean to play singles alongside world No. 15 Richard Gasquet. Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement are expected to play doubles.

The best-of-five match takes place on indoor clay at the Luzhniki Indoor Arena. Opening singles are Friday, followed by Saturday's doubles and reverse singles Sunday.

AP, Reuters