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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Faces Germany In Qualifier




A weakened Russian women's tennis team takes on the injury-plagued German squad in the Federation Cup qualifier over the weekend at Moscow's Druzhba Arena.


Both teams approach this match, which will decide who remains in the World Group next season, on equal terms, missing their best players. But while the Germans have been hit with injury woes, the hosts have also experienced other problems, stemming from the refusal of their top players, Anna Kournikova and Yelena Likhovtseva, to play for the national team.


In Russia's last Federation Cup tie, against Australia in Perth, both Kournikova and Likhovtseva refused to play for the Russian Tennis Federation.


But while the 16th-ranked Kournikova blamed her absence on her previous commitments, Likhovtseva demanded $50,000 in cash from the federation if she was to participate.


The Russians refused to bow to the pressure of their ego-driven stars and used lesser known players -- 66th-ranked Tatyana Panova, No. 393 Anastasia Myskina and No. 437 Yekaterina Sysoyeva -- who upset the highly favorite hosts 3-2, earning the right to play against Germany.


This time, however, the Russian officials, while patching up relations with Kournikova's camp, will be without their superstar. The 17-year-old sensation, who aggravated a thumb injury in practice last week preparing for an exhibition event in Mahwah, New Jersey, will be sidelined for several weeks.


The once powerful German squad also arrived in Moscow at less than full strength, without the services of former world No. 1 Stefi Graf, who has been struggling to come back from injury.


In her absence, the Germans will be led by Anke Huber, who hasn't played a competitive match for more than three months due to an ankle injury and has dropped in the world rankings to No. 18.


"Both teams will be on equal terms in this match," Russian coach Konstantin Bogorodetsky said after the draw Friday.


They will play two singles matches Saturday at 2 p.m., and then at 1 p.m. Sunday will be the reverse singles, followed by the doubles match.