Johannesburg – Following on the announcement last week of a grossly under-strength South African squad, Russia on Tuesday also revealed a depleted line-up for next week's crucial Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup relegation decider in Moscow.
But without their three top-ranked players, namely Mikhail Youzhny, 21st in the world; Dmitry Tursunov (39th) and Nikolay Devedenko (48th), the Russian squad still appears infinitely stronger than their South African counterparts.
The four players announced by the Russian Tennis Federation to participate in the tie at the Palace of Army Sport in Moscow from October 25 are Alex Bogomolov jnr, ranked 76th in the world; Andray Kuznetsov (142nd), Konstantin Kravchuk (163rd) and up-and-coming prospect Karen Khachanov (808th).
With six top players unavailable, the highest rated player in the South African squad is the 569th-ranked Dean O'Brien, with Tucker Vorster a 100 places further back, doubles specialist Raven Klassen and promising Japie de Klerk completing the South African line-up.
Without the world's 20th-ranked Kevin Anderson, South Africa may well have avoided the drop to the third-tier Euro-Africa Group Two against the weakened squad named by the Russians.
However, it has been suggested that the Russians took cognisance of the below par South African team and accordingly chose a line-up that could do the job at hand almost as well.
Also influencing the Russian selection is the spate of major ATP tournaments in the next couple of weeks, with players seeking points to enhance their end-of-the-year world rankings.
And the International Federation has also been criticised for lumping the important Russia-South Africa tie in the midst of the busy ATP programme. – Sapa