MINSK, Belarus - Marat Safin might not be able to play for Russia this week in the Davis Cup after his exhausting run to the Australian Open final.
Safin, in a great return from a year marked by injuries, played 30 sets in seven matches at the Australian Open, losing to Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the final.
Russia faces Belarus in the opening round of World Group competition, a best-of-five event that begins Friday.
“There’s no guarantee that Safin will play,” Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev said Tuesday. “If he has not rehabilitated himself after Australia, there may be no point in fielding him.”
Safin returned to Moscow on Tuesday and was expected to be in Minsk on Wednesday. Tarpishchev said he might decide on Safin’s availability on Thursday, the day of the draw.
“The nervous system recovers much longer than the physical one,” the captain said. “One cannot trick nature.”
Tarpishchev still regards Safin as Russia’s No. 1 player. Mikhail Youzhny was No. 2, with Nikolay Davydenko the backup singles player.
The series will be the first between the two former Soviet republics. Belarus will be making its debut in the World Group. The loser will go to the World Group playoffs in September.
In Australia, Safin spent 20 hours, 58 minutes on the court in two weeks. He beat U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals and defending champion Andre Agassi in the semifinals.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic wasted a chance to serve out the match and was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 by sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday.
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