No Serena Williams, no Maria Sharapova in tweaked Fed Cup

In the absence of the Williams sisters, as well as Australian Open semi-finalist Sloane Stephens, the 17-time champions US will be led by world number 21 Varvara Lepchencko when they face Italy in Rimini.

updated: February 08, 2013 10:20 IST
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Paris: The 2013 Fed Cup World Group gets underway Saturday with the tournament missing marquee names Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova and with a late format tweak aimed at boosting the event's appeal.

Both Williams and Sharapova featured in the 2012 Fed Cup, partly to meet Olympic Games qualifying criteria, but will not be involved when the United States tackle Italy and Russia welcome Japan this weekend.

Williams, who has played just six ties since 1999, has a back injury while Sharapova, whose Fed Cup record stretches to a meagre three appearances since her 2008 debut, was left out of the Russian squad.

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