The official website of Davis Cup says the following:
"Czech Republic vs Russia
Russia have elected to name Marat Safin in their team even though he may not be fit in time for the tie due to a wrist injury sustained at the Australian Open. The hero of the 2002 Final, Mikhail Youzhny, has also been chosen, along with the yet-to-retire Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Nikolay Davydenko, the winner in Adelaide at the start of the year."
Sorry to break the news to you, but it seems that now we have to worry about staying in the World Group rather than defending the title.
According to another board, the Russian commentator (Metreveli) confirmed that Marat will not be playing against the Czechs (S. Tarpischev said so) . I haven't seen any official confirmation in the Russian press so far but as soon as something pops up, I'll post it here.
We need at least an in-form Zhenia and Misha badly.
MOSCOW: The 2000 US Open champion Marat Safin has been
named in Russia's Davis Cup squad for their first round tie against
the Czech Republic in Ostrava from February 7 to 9, Russia's
skipper Shamil Tarpishchev said on Monday. Tarpishchev said that
though Safin's appearance was in serious doubt due to the wrist
injury, which forced him out of the Australian Open earlier this
month, Safin's mere presence would boost morale.
Russia's skipper also included Mikhail Youzhny, who won the
deciding rubber in last year's final with France, Sydney Olympic
champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov and this year's Adelaide ATP event
winner Nikolai Davydenko.
The match will be Russia's (or Soviet Union's) 100th Davis Cup tie.
Official nominations of teams are already on the DC site.
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev
The captain said in his interview that Marat will not play. His injury is more serious than expected. He will need at least another 2.5 weeks to recover, then he'll need to regain his form - all in all, he is sidelined for a month . Regarding Zhenia: he is not in the best form and he'll need 2-3 months to recover his physical condition.
Misha is already training on clay. #3 will be Davydenko. Regarding #4 - a young player will be taken as an alternate, although he will not play.
Not the best news, unless Tarpischev is playing an old fox
MILAN, Italy (AP) -- Fifth-seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov qualified for the quarterfinals of the $380,000 Milan Indoor ATP tournament by defeating young Dane Kristian Pless 6-4, 6-3 in a second-round match Thursday.
Kefelnikov, a semifinalist in last year's edition of the competition and a Milan champion in 1995, held command of play and collected the points he needed in the key moments on the match on carpet at IOL arena.
The 28-year-old Russian, one of the eight players in Open era to win 25 singles and 25 doubles title, broke the unseeded Dane in the 10th game, to take the first set, and again in the second game of the second set to move 2-0.
On 5-4, Pless missed three break points. Then Kafelnikov rallied to 40-40, served one ace and won the match on an unforced error of the opponent.
Kafelnikov, who underwent vein surgery in his calf following Russia's triumph against France in the 2002 Davis Cup final, said he felt strong again after the operation.
"The operation went very well .... Before that I felt weaker. Now I'm trying to put myself in top shape. I have no goals for the season at the moment. I play because I like to play," he said, refusing to comment on his long rumored decision to retire.
Kafelnikov was included in the Russian team for the 2003 Davis Cup but the player said he was unlikely to play, not even the doubles.
MOSCOW - Russia's tennis chief says his team will be the underdog in defense of its Davis Cup title against the Czech Republic.
"We're definitely the underdogs in this tie," Tarpishchev, president of the Russian tennis federation and their Davis Cup captain, told Reuters in a telephone interview Tuesday from Ostrava, the site of the first-round world group tie.
"Taking into account everything that has happened to us in the last few weeks, the Czechs must be considered big favorites. They are playing at home, their doubles team also looks much stronger than ours," Tarpishchev said.
"But most of all, we've been heavily handicapped by (Marat) Safin's injury. It threw all our preparation off track."
Last week, 2000 U.S. Open champion Safin pulled out of the Feb. 7-9 tie after injuring his left wrist at last month's Australian Open.
In his absence, Davis Cup hero Mikhail Youzhny will lead the Russian team which also includes former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov and newcomers Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreyev.
Youzhny won the decisive singles match last December when Russia won their first Davis Cup with a dramatic 3-2 victory over holders France in December.
Playing as a substitute for Kafelnikov, the 20-year-old came from two sets down to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in Paris.
Kafelnikov, 28, who has shelved his plans to retire after helping Russia win the Davis Cup, last week reached the ATP tournament final in Milan, where he lost to Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk.
"Both Youzhny and Davydenko are looking fine, but unfortunately Kafelnikov is far from his best," Tarpishchev said. "He still needs a lot more conditioning under his belt to be a threat on clay. But we're running out of time here."
Asked who would be given the nod to play the singles, Tarpishchev said: "I'm not going to put all my cards on the table just yet. We still have a couple of days to get ready."