Spain-Belarus: Match-point to be announced in Minsk

The Belarusian tennis-players begin Davis Cup with a match with the Spanish team
With the beginning of the new year the tennis-courts around the world revived with the merry sound of balls announcing the start of a new season. The Grand Slam series, ATP and WTA tours… However, it would be right to say, that despite Australian Open held in Melbourne, the attention of the Belarusian amateurs of this beautiful and elegant game will be drawn to the courts of Minsk Football Arena, which will host one of the matches of the first round of the Davis Cup World Group from February 10 to 12.

Two years ago the triumphant wins of the Belarusians in the Cup rounds caused a tennis sensation. The detachable stands installed in the football arena were crammed with spectators, and couldn’t accommodate all comers. This year, the stands are expected to be full again. Firstly, due to the efforts of Maxim Mirny and Vladimir Volchkov the Belarusian team could remain in the company of the elite national teams. Secondly, it will be in the first match of the season, when one of the mostly titled teams in the history of “Silver Bowl” will enter the court.

The Spanish. Recently, the tennis players from the Pyrenees have twice been the winners of this honourable trophy. However, after the brilliant win of the 2004 final, they suffered no less notorious loss in the 2005 tournament, when they lost to the Slovak team in the first match and found themselves on the verge of elimination from the World Group. The fact that their offenders ended up in the final was of little comfort to the Spanish who occupy the second place in the world ranking and yield only to the Croat team, the present holder of the Cup. In the play-off match they won a victory over the Italians and crave for revenge.
There are some prerequisites to the fulfilment of the “toreadors” ambitions.

Their main trump is the players. Any potential contestant can envy the choice of the guests. Second-ranking player Rafael Nadal, ranked 15th in the previous year David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Tommy Roberdo, Carlos Moya, Francisco Verdasco, Felliciano Lopez... Among the main candidates to the national team only Albert Martin, Albert Montagnes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez are not in the top 50 of the world ranking. Jordy Arres has more than 20 players at his disposal. Little wonder that the stuff has not formed yet. With some confidence we can name the players that will participate in the double — Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, however even these positions are subject to change after the first tournaments of the new seasons.

The Belarusian team can only dream about such abundant choice of top-notch players. The captain of the team Dmitry Tatur has made his choice long before the “H” hour: the main role in the cup battles will belong to Maxim Mirny and Vladimir Volchkov again. At the end of the previous year the leader of the Belarusian tennis occupied the 35th place in the world rankings. Vladimir Volchkov, whose season was not very rich, was only on the 224th place. Nevertheless, Vladimir has already proved his ability to concentrate at the proper moment and produce a magical match.

Among the ones who will help to Mirny and Volchkov will be Sergey Tarasevich, Alexander Buryi and Alexander Zotov. Tarasevich, who occupies the 1226th place in the world ranking, is the best player in the Belarusian tennis. Buryi has a strong serve, and Zotov is left-handed. According to Dmitry Tatur’s opinion, these qualities will come in handy for sparring trainings for the team leaders.

During the first tournaments of the season, and especially Australian Open, the contestants will devote to “reconnaissance in force”, getting acquainted with the play of the competitors and each other. However the preparations for the match in February did not stop in the off-season. According to the Belarusian team captain and father of the team leader Nickolay Mirny, Maxim trained in Florida, under the guidance of the Japanese specialist in physical training Inora Itaku and the masseur of the national team Ivan Buryi.

Mirny’s tournament calendar, besides the tournament in the capital of Qatar, Doha, where the Belarusian lost in the first round, includes also Australian Open. Vladimir Volchkov has betook himself to the same addresses and is likely to play before the very match in the tournament in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. Vladimir feels well and strictly adheres to his preparation plan. The failures experienced by Volchkov at the start of the new season did not discompose down. The tennis player is certain that in Davis Cup matches the relationship pre-history does not matter much, especially in view of the quick covering “Taraflex”, the most convenient for the host team of the meeting and the least preferred by the Spaniards who are used to ground courts. That is why it is hard to name the absolute favourite of the forthcoming meeting — this is to be defined by the game.

Dmitry Komashko
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