Out-of-form Nikolay Davydenko starts the campaign for hosts Russia with an opening rubber against Argentine David Nalbandian after the draw on Thursday for their Davis Cup World Group weekend quarter-final.
Davydenko, who missed three months with a broken wrist, will be out to insure that Russia maintain the record of never having lost to the South Americans at home when he faces recent injury victim Nalbandian on Friday.
“I haven’t played for three months, just had a couple of matches on grass,” said the Russian “Only time will tell how well I’m playing.”
The hosts have plenty at stake, holding a 17-match home win dating back nearly a decade and a half.
Davydenko’s opening match will be followed by Mikhail Youzhny against Argentine Leondaro Mayer to conclude the opening-day programme. Teimuraz Gabashvili and Igor Kunitsyn are down for Saturday doubles against Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos.
Nalbandian, who needed hip surgery 15 months ago, has since been bothered by other injuries including an abdominal muscle problem.
He last competed in Monte Carlo three months ago.
Russia hold a 3-2 head-to-head lead in the series, with their last meeting the 2006 final in Moscow, which the hosts won.
Argentina have lost all three Davis finals they have played.
In Clermont-Ferrand, France will begin against holders Spain with Gael Monfils playing David Ferrer as both teams miss injured leaders.
World number one Rafael Nadal is out for the Spaniards as the new Wimbledon champion undergoes therapy on a knee, while France are without injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. France’s Michael Llodra will face Fernando Verdasco in the second singles rubber.