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Safin leads Russia in Davis Cup against France

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, Marc 22 (Reuters) Marat Safin will lead Russia in April's Davis Cup quarter-final against France.

The former world number one made an impressive return from a seven-month injury layoff at last month's Dubai Open, beating Nikolay Davydenko in his first match. Safin also reached the fourth round at last week's Indian Wells tournament.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev added Safin, who has not played Davis Cup since 2005's first round, to a team of world number five Davydenko, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov and 2002 Davis Cup final hero Mikhail Youzhny.

''We'll take all five players to France and then I'll choose the best four just before the draw,'' Tarpishchev told Reuters.

The quarter-final will be held at the indoor Sports Palace in Pau on April 7-9. Russia trounced the Netherlands 5-0 in the first round.

The Russians beat France 3-2 in a memorable 2002 final in Paris to win their first Davis Cup title and defeated them again by the same score in last year's quarter-finals in Moscow.

''We have had some great battles with the French over the last few years and I'm sure our next match will be just as tough,'' said Tarpishchev.

''But the addition of Safin will give us a greater option. He has been the leader of our team for a long time and his presence will help other players in many ways, on and off the court.'' REUTERS PG RS2248

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