Sharapova to make Fed Cup debut vs. Spain

Updated: August 4, 2008, 1:35 PM ET
Reuters

MOSCOW -- World No. 2 Maria Sharapova will make her long-awaited Fed Cup debut for Russia against Spain in next month's World Group first-round tie.

"It's all has been agreed and unless she is injured, we will see Maria in Moscow in April," Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev, who is also their Fed Cup captain, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Sharapova will be joined by world No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova and world No. 7 seven Nadia Petrova for the two-day indoor tie at Moscow's Luzhniki Sports Palace from April 21-22.

Tarpishchev must choose between 11th-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and 14th-ranked Dinara Safina to replace Elena Dementieva, who has a rib injury.

"Aside from Dementieva, we'll have our strongest team there," said Tarpishchev.

There have always been doubts in the Russian media over whether Sharapova would ever play for her country, but the Florida-based 19-year-old made herself available shortly after winning last year's U.S. Open title.

Playing Fed Cup for Russia would make Sharapova eligible to play in next year's Beijing Olympics.

The Russians will try to regain the Fed Cup title they won in 2004 and 2005. They lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals last year.