Tennis-Sharapova pulls out of Russia Fed Cup side for U.S. tie

MOSCOW, July 9 Mon Jul 9, 2007 11:42am BST

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MOSCOW, July 9 (Reuters) - World number two Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Russian team for this weekend's Fed Cup semi-final against the United States.

"She said she is injured, so she will not play," Russia Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev told Reuters on Monday.

Sharapova, who was soundly beaten by eventual champion Venus Williams in the fourth round of Wimbledon last week, has been suffering from a persistent shoulder injury since April.

The U.S. Open champion will be replaced by world number 58 Elena Vesnina for the July 14-15 tie in Vermont.

The defending champions could also lose world number four Svetlana Kuznetsova as the 2004 U.S. Open champion has a nagging shoulder injury of her own.

"Kuznetsova is a long shot. If her shoulder improves in the next couple of days then she'll play," said Tarpishchev, who named 66th-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva as an alternate.

Kudryavtseva, 19, took Venus Williams to three sets in their first-round encounter at Wimbledon before losing 2-6 6-3 7-5.

Nadia Petrova and Anna Chakvetadze, ranked in the top 10 in the world, make up the rest of the Russian team.

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, will lead the host nation, teaming up with Lisa Raymond and Vania King.

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