Davis Cup: Safin, Youzhny to play singles, Davydenko dropped

Marat Safin was picked ahead of fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and will face Andy Roddick in the opening singles match Friday when Russia faces the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals.

Davydenko, who reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open earlier this month, was left out of Thursday's draw by Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev. Safin, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked player, is ranked 72nd.

In the other singles match, Mikhail Youzhny will play James Blake. Youzhny also reached the last four at the U.S. Open, losing to Roddick, while Blake made the quarterfinals.

On Saturday, the top-ranked doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan will play Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov.

Sunday's reverse singles should see a rematch between Youzhny and Roddick, while Safin takes on Blake, reports AP.

The best-of-five series will be played on clay at the Olympic Indoor stadium, where Pete Sampras won all three of his matches in 1995 to help the United States capture its 31st Davis Cup title.

Russia, which has never beaten the United States, is unbeaten at home since losing that final and beat France in 2002 for its only title. The winner will face either Australia or Argentina in the final.

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