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Lawn Tennis: Muscovite Andreev set to enjoy home comforts.

Byline: By Dave Horgan

THE Kremlin Cup in Moscow has been something of a home-banker for Russian players in recent years with nine of the last 11 renewals going to players from the host nation.

And with nine of the confirmed 28 entrants hailing from Russia there is every chance of that becoming ten this week.

Leading the charge for the home nation will be top seed Nikolay Davydenko.

The World No. 5 is clear favourite to secure this title for the fourth time after landing a superb draw, and you can't argue too much about quotes around the 5-2 mark.

His victory in last year's event came without dropping a set and he clearly loves the court conditions, particularly with a fervent home support helping to bolster his occasionally fragile mental state.

Another big showing is expected, but his price is no more than fair and preference is given to another man who has shown a liking for this event, Igor Andreev. The Muscovite won there in 2005 and is playing well enough to go close again this week.

Originally seen as a clay-court specialist, he has made great strides on hard-courts this year and now appears a far more rounded player.

Blessed with an enormous forehand, he has always had the power to blow away opponents, but until recently his tactics have let him down on the quicker surfaces.

But that has changed. While before he was often to be found five feet behind the baseline, content to rally with his opponent, he is now prepared to step up and make attacking plays. His serve has come on a bundle too and the results are following.

He was rock-solid through the summer hard-court swing in America, losing only to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal (twice), Carlos Moya and Marin Cilic and should be fresher than bottom-half rivals Paul-Henri Mathieu and Dmitri Tursunov, who played in yesterday's Metz final.

Recommendation

I Andreev

1pt each-way 7-1 Ladbrokes

KREMLIN CUP DRAW

TOP HALF

(1) N Davydenkjo6 v F Serra56

N Devilder62 v G Garcia-Lopez60

J Benneteau53 v qualifier

qualifier v (7) M Safin40

(3) M Youzhny21 v T Gabashvili86

M Zverev96 v D Gremelmayr85

V Troicki65 v E Donskoy679

A Kudryavtsevn/a v (8) J Tipsarevic43

BOTTOM HALF

(6) M Llodra36 v qualifier

F Santoro68 v Y Schukin180

D Sela66 v V Hanescu74

S Stakhovsky87 v (4) P-H Mathieu24

(5) D Tursunov32 v I Kunitsyn72

R Ginepri64 v qualifier

P Starace 76 v J Chardy 83

Y-H Lu69 v (2) I Andreev20

PAST KREMLIN CUP FINALS

2007 (1) N Davydenko (4-1) bt (4) P-H Mathieu (12-1) 7-5 7-6

2006 (1) N Davydenko (11-4) bt M Safin (4-1) 6-4 5-7 6-4

2005 (7) I Andreev (28-1) bt (6) N Kiefer (16-1) 5-7 7-6 6-2

2004 (8) N Davydenko (40-1) bt G Rusedski (25-1) 3-6 6-3 7-5

2003 T Dent (12-1) bt S Sargsian (80-1) 7-6 6-4

2002 (qu) P-H Mathieu (40-1) bt (7) S Schalken (20-1) 4-6 6-2 6-0

2001 (1) Y Kafelnikov (7-1) bt N Kiefer (28-1) 6-4 7-5

2000 (2) Y Kafelnikov (100-30) bt D Prinosil (25-1) 6-2 7-5

1999 (1) Y Kafelnikov bt B Black 7-6 6-4

CAPTION(S):

Igor Andreev serving at the US Open
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2008
Words:536
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