Russia's tennis team is in the Davis Cup final for the third time. From November 29th - December 1st, the Russians will battle it out for the honour of lifting silver salad bowl with the French team who have home advantage in Paris.
The Russian team has already played in two Davis Cup finals. On both occasions they were on home turf at Moscow's Olympiiski sports complex. In 1994, with Vadim Borisov as captain, they made it to the final by beating Australia, Spain and Germany, but eventually lost to Sweden, led by the legendary Stefan Edberg.
Eight years ago Alexander Volkov, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Andrei Olkhovsky played for the Russian team. The match ended 4-1 in favour of the Swedes, with only Yevgeny Kafelnikov managing to score a point for the home side in a meaningless match against Edberg.
In 1995, Russia again lost, but this time to the Americans, going down 2-3. The Russians won their semi-final against the Germans by the same margin, despite being 0-2 down to the visitors after the first day. Boris Becker and Michael Stich outplayed Andrei Chesnokov and Yevgeny Kafelnikov and it seemed that Russian's chances of making it to the final were dead and buried.
However, the Russians drew level with victory in the doubles and a Yevgeny Kafelnikov win against Bernd Karbacher. The semi-final hinged on the outcome of the Andrei Chesnokov-Michael Stich encounter. Chesnokov survived nine match points in the fifth and final set to secure Russia's second successive appearance in the Davis Cup final. It's worth pointing out that Stich never recovered from the defeat in this fantastic match and, after losing the French Open final to Kafelnikov a year later, bowed out of professional tennis.
Russia and France have only met once in the Davis Cup. In 1983, the French team beat the then USSR side 4-1 in Moscow. Nineteen years ago, the Soviet team featured Vadim Borisov, Sergei Leonyuk, now the Kremlin Cup tournament's director, and Konstantin Pugayev.
On this occasion the Russian team is made up of Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marat Safin, Mikhail Yuzhny and Andrei Stolyarov.
The Russians have beaten Switzerland, Sweden, and Argentina on their way to the final. Curiously, they have played all these matches at home.
This will be the third time Yevgeny Kafelnikov has played at the Bercy Palais de Sport, while the other Russian players will have the opportunity to make their debuts there.
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