Masha lines up Moscow Fed Cup return
Originally published on: 01/12/10 10:13
Maria Sharapova will make a long-overdue return to the Russian Fed Cup team for their quarter-final tie against France in February.
Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion, will anchor the four time champions having last represented her country in the women’s team event in a quarter-final victory over Israel in 2008, her sole appearance in the competition.
Having battled back from persistent shoulder problems, the 23-year-old will team up with two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, former world No.1 Dinara Safina and teenage star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“Sharapova has agreed to play the first round,” announced Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev. “She has fully recovered from the problems with her shoulder and again could challenge for the No.1 spot.”
Vera Zvonareva, the world No.2 and 2010 US Open and Wimbledon finalist, will miss the tie because of a contractual obligation to play at a WTA tournament, 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.
Russia has claimed four Fed Cup titles, winning the title for the first time in 2004 and defending their crown in 2005, before doing the double again in 2007 and 2008.
They are 5-3 all-time versus the French, including victories in the 2004 and 2005 finals. The last time Russia fell on home soil, however, was in 2003 – losing against France in a semifinal showdown in Moscow.
The winners of the tie, to be held on February 5-6 2011, will face either Australia or defending champions Italy.