Russia bank on clay specialist Andreev in Davis Cup semis

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MOSCOW, Sep 20 (Reuters) Igor Andreev will lead holders Russia in the Davis Cup semi-final against Germany when he plays Tommy Haas in the opening singles tomorrow.

World number four Nikolay Davydenko then faces 32nd-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second singles on clay at Moscow's Olympic sports complex following the draw made today.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev preferred claycourt specialist Andreev, who reached the French Open quarter-finals this year, over world number 17 Mikhail Youzhny, who is ranked 20 places higher than his team mate.

''We picked Andreev mainly for tactical reasons,'' Tarpishchev, who last week guided Russian women to their third Fed Cup title in four years, told Reuters.

''Besides, Igor has played on clay for the past two weeks and is more adapted to the surface than Youzhny or Davydenko.'' Germany captain Patrik Kuhnen said he was not surprised by Tarpishchev's decision.

''Not at all, in fact that is what I had expected,'' he said.

Germany number one, 11th-ranked Haas, said: ''I don't think I've ever played Igor before but I'll check the internet tonight just to make sure. But I know he has had some good results on clay this year, both on the tour and in Davis Cup.

''I think we'll be testing each other early on, but I know his game and he knows mine, so it will come down to who's playing the better game,'' he added.

Andreev said he did not feel nervous playing the German ace.

''Tommy is a great player and everybody expects him to take both points in this tie but I'm ready,'' said the Russian.

Davydenko leads Haas 3-1 in their head-to-head matches, all of them having been played at grand slam tournaments.

Haas beat Davydenko after a five-set marathon in this year's Australian Open quarter-finals but the Russian got his revenge in straight sets in the last eight of this month's US Open.

REUTERS SSC RK1910

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