Tennis players from Holland, the USA, France and Finland will be the rivals of the Russian tennis players in the first round of the "Australian Open" tournament to start on Monday, January 13th. Four Russian tennis players were qualified for the tournament - Marat Safin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mikhail Yuzhny and Nikolai Davidenko.
Marat Safin will play against Dutch Ramon Sluiter in the first round. It is worth mentioning that last year Safin played in the finals of the first tournament of the Grand Slam series, but was defeated by Tomas Johansson from Sweden. Yesterday, "the Russian Giant", as Safin is called abroad, refused to play at the "Adidas International" tournament, which is taking place in Sydney, due to the shoulder injury.
The winner of the 1999 Australian Open, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, will play his first game against American Jeff Morrison, who occupies the 54th place in the list of the Association of Tennis Professionals /ATP/.
Another Russian tennis player, hero of the Davis Cup finals, Mikhail Yuzhny will play against young French tennis player Richard Gasquet, who was qualified to the Australian Open owing to the wild card (a special personal invitation from the organisers and sponsors of the tournament).
And finally, Nikolai Davidenko who recently won the tennis tournament in Adelaide will play against Jarkko Nieminen from Finland.
It is noteworthy that the Russian representation in men's category at the tournament may be increased. It will only happen if Dmitry Tursunov and Andrey Stolyarov from the Russian team become the winners of the qualifying tournament, which is taking place these days in Melbourne.