MOSCOW, July 9 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
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.