Maria Sharapova will lead Russia in the Fed Cup first-round tie against France next season, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation said Tuesday. Shamil Tarpischev, who is also the Fed Cup captain, said Sharapova has agreed to play in the competition for the first time since making her debut in Russia’s 4-1 first-round victory over Israel in 2008. “Sharapova has agreed to play the first round,” Tarpischev said at a news conference. “She has fully recovered from the problems with her shoulder and again could challenge for the No. 1 spot.”
Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, former world number one Dinara Safina, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will also be on the team for the tie on a hardcourt at the Olympic indoor stadium on Feb. 5-6. World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva will miss the tie because of contractual obligations to play at a WTA tour event but will join the team if Russia advances to the semifinals of the competition. “Vera will help the team no matter where we play—in Australia or at home against Austria,” Tarpischev said.
Four-time champion Russia has won five of eight meetings with France.