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Russia look to 'Marushka' Sharapova in Fed Cup final

Russia look to 'Marushka' Sharapova in Fed Cup final

Maria Sharapova has played only four Fed Cup ties, but her presence on the court could make all the difference as Russian Federation take on holders the Czech Republic in the 2015 final at the weekend.

Defending champions the Czech Republic women team has been quite successful over the past years, managing to win the title on three different occasions during the last four years including the 2011 victory over Russian Federation.

Fourth-ranked Maria Sharapova will open her first Fed Cup final against Karolina Pliskova in the second singles on Saturday on an indoor hard court at O2 Arena.

All four of her previous Fed Cup ties were in the first round, and all wins. 'We are going into this final as underdogs.' Sharapova told the press in Prague, 'We expect a stadium full of Czechs - I'm sure there will be a few Russian flags flying around - but there will be more Czechs in the stadium than Russians.

After being sidelined with leg and arm problems in July, Sharapova returned to action at the WTA Tour Finals last month, where she lost to Kvitova in the semi-finals.

"I am (excited for the Final)".

Not only will the two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova play this weekend, but also French Open finalist and No. 9 Lucie Safarova, who has come through when she was needed the most.

In 2011 because of a left ankle injury, she was not available for the home final loss against the Czechs.

Czech captain Petr Pala chose Pliskova over a higher-ranking Safarova for singles, while his Russian counterpart Anastasia Myskina picked Pavlyuchenkova over a better-placed Makarova.

"It will definitely be my greatest game ever", said the 23-year-old.

The 28-year-old has been posting a series of photographs from her travels on the picture-sharing app, and it's fair to say that she has been taking her mind off the tennis court. The Czechs are playing for their ninth Fed Cup championship, including their fourth in the last five years.

"She's up and coming, she's had really good results this year and of course when you don't know what to expect in a completely new match and in the atmosphere I think it will be about competing... and doing the best that you can". For those interested in betting on the Fed Cup.

For the last ten years, Russian Federation and the Czechs have nearly monopolised the Fed Cup with both nation's dominance sparking a fierce rivalry.

'We have a great team.

"I know how hard opponents they are, it will be a great challenge for me", Sharapova said.

"Our full concentration will be on what is ahead of us and not on what " s going on around us".

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