MOSCOW: World number two Maria Sharapova will spearhead Russia in their Fed Cup World Group semi-final against Germany at Sochi on April 18-19, team captain Anastasia Myskina announced Wednesday.
The five-time Grand Slam title winner must compete in the women´s team event if she wants to bid for gold at the Rio Olympics next year.
The 27-year-old Sharapova made a rare but decisive Fed Cup appearance in February helping Russia to beat Poland in the opening round at Krakow.
It was just her fourth Fed Cup appearance since her 2008 debut.
Four-time champions Russia are trying to shrug off the bitter memories of a disappointing 2014 season, when they lost 4-0 to Australia in their opening round clash.
Myskina added that in addition to Sharapova and four-time Grand Slam title winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked world 25, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 38th in the WTA rankings, will also play along with world number 71 Elena Vesnina.
The match on the red clay courts of Adler Arena will be the fifth meeting between the two nations with Russia holding a 3-1 lead in their head-to-head record.
However, Germany, two-time Fed Cup winners in 1987 and 1992, won 3-2 in their last meeting between the two sides in the 2002 World Group first round.
The Czech Republic host France in the second semi-final in Ostrava. (AFP)