BRIEF-Tennis-Russia without leading players for Fed Cup opener
MOSCOW Jan 11 (Reuters) - Russia will be without their leading players for next month's Fed Cup first-round tie against Serbia, team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said on Monday.
World number two Dinara Safina, third-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova are unavailable for the Feb. 6-7 clash in Belgrade due to injuries or schedule issues.
"Unfortunately for us the first-round tie has been scheduled very badly -- in between the Australian Open and a series of tournaments in the United States," said Tarpishchev.
Former world number one Sharapova, who was out for nearly 10 months following a shoulder surgery before returning to action last May, has said she will not play in the Fed Cup this year.
Russia, who won the Fed Cup four times between 2004 and 2008, lost to eventual champions Italy in last year's semi-finals. (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Ed Osmond, To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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