Maria Sharapova of Russia, returns a shot from Daria Gavrilova of Russia, at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 26, 2015 in Key Biscayne, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee
April 08, 2015

MOSCOW (AP) The Russian Tennis Federation has confirmed that Maria Sharapova will play for her country against Germany in the Fed Cup semifinals this month.

The second-ranked Sharapova rarely plays Fed Cup, citing a busy schedule, but will be part of the Russian team facing Germany on April 18-19 in Sochi. Playing in the team event helps her become eligible for next year's Olympics.

Russia captain Anastasia Myskina, a former French Open champion, has also picked Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina.

The German Tennis Federation said its team would consist of Andrea Petkovic, Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges.

''With its exceptional player Maria Sharapova in the lead, Russia will definitely be highly motivated in front of its home crowd. But we'll have our chances too,'' German team captain Barbara Rittner said in a statement Wednesday. ''A final at home against the Czech Republic or France is our big aim.''

The German team boasts strength in depth with three top 20 players. Sharapova is Russia's only player in the top 20, with world No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova not in the team.

Four-time champion Russia and two-time winner Germany have met only twice in the Fed Cup since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with each team winning one match. Germany won the last time it played Russia - in 2002 - in a match which featured both of the current team captains.

Germany lost to the Czech Republic in last year's final, while the 2013 final saw Russia lose to Italy.

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