German injury woes increase leading into Davis Cup

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The Independent Online

Already under strength in the absence of Nicolas Kiefer and Tommy Haas, Germany's Davis Cup campaign received another setback when Rainer Schuttler injured his calf muscle in the leadup to the quarterfinal against Australia.

Germany takes on the defending titlist on grass at Adelaide's Memorial Drive starting Friday and captain Carl-Uwe Steeb on Wednesday said there was still doubt over the availability of Schuttler, who is the top-ranked German behind Kiefer and Haas.

Haas withdrew from the squad earlier this week with a hip injury and Kiefer has made himself unavailable for Davis Cup. Steeb said he would decide on his lineup before the draw Thursday.

Australia goes into the contest as hot favorite, with in-form Lleyton Hewitt filling one singles spot and former world No. 1 Pat Rafter and grass court specialist Wayne Arthurs vying for the other. Veteran doubles expert Mark Woodforde is also in the team.

The Australian team is superior on world rankings, with both Hewitt and Rafter in the top 20, but the host also had an injury setback when Mark Philippoussis withdrew due to injury on the weekend.

Despite Germany's player shortage, Steeb remained upbeat his team's chances.

"For sure we are the underdogs and the Australians are clearly the favorites," he said. "There are always chances, in Davis Cup you always have surprises.

"We have in our team players (who) on a good day can beat any player ... so if things are going well, every match is open."

Schuttler has a singles ranking of 61 and David Prinosil is ranked No. 93, while Michael Kohlmann and Marc-Kevin Goellner were ranked outside the top 100 going into the quarterfinal.

Steeb said Germany was always going to struggle this year when Kiefer decided not to play.

"I hope that for the future we can bring everybody in but you can't do anything about it," he said. "I think (players) have to make their decision on their own.

"You can talk to them and try to convince them to play but it's their own decision and they have to come with all their heart into the team otherwise they won't do well anyway."