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Russia counting on Maria, Kuznetsova in Fed Cup

Russia’s Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev said Tuesday he is still hopeful that top players  Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova will be available for April’s Fed Cup semifinal against Slovakia.

‘I need to study the playing schedules of our girls before starting to plan the line-up for the match with Slovakia,’ a sports daily quoted Tarpishchev as saying.

‘Of course Sharapova would strengthen our team a great deal, but we should never forget about her personal interests. We must try to minimise any losses for those who are battling for the top places in the rankings.’

Russia’s top player Sharapova has played just three Fed Cup ties in her career so far, making her debut in 2008 to help satisfy Olympic Games qualification criteria.

After playing again in 2011, she also featured in the quarterfinal win over Spain in 2012 in the run-up to the London Games.

Tarpishchev said that Sharapova had expressed her desire to play for Russia in this season’s Fed Cup campaign, and that he had been keen to call her into his squad for the later stages of the competition.

‘If Masha (Sharapova) has a relatively simple tournament schedule ahead without a series of top-class events in America we will call on her,’ he said.

‘But otherwise the trans-Atlantic flights and time zone changes can seriously harden the battle for the top spot in the WTA rankings. We’re not going make her life even tougher.’
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