PORTLAND: Russia pulled a surprise at Thursday’s draw for the Davis Cup final, leaving fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko out of the singles matches.

Davydenko — at the centre of a gambling investigation — was relegated to playing doubles with Igor Andreev, and captain Shamil Tarpischev picked Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny for singles.

Many expected Davydenko, as the highest-ranked player on the Russian team, to play singles in the competition at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. Instead, Tursunov will face sixth-ranked Andy Roddick in the opening match on Friday, followed by 13th-ranked James Blake against Youzhny.

Davydenko and Andreev are slated to play the top-ranked duo of Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday. The singles opponents are reversed on Sunday.

“We have four strong players, be it for singles or doubles, so the choice was made for tactical reasons,” said Tarpischev.

U.S. team captain Patrick McEnroe said he wasn’t surprised about the twist, but he didn’t expect the Bryans to face the Russian duo put forward on Thursday. He predicted last-minute manoeuvring on the part of the Russians, perhaps even for the reverse singles on Sunday.

“I don’t think they probably even know who their doubles team will be,” he said. — AP

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