Russia without top players vs Italy in Fed Cup

The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia will be missing its top players when it faces Italy in the Fed Cup final in November.

Maria Kirilenko, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina, who led Russia to its sixth final in 10 years earlier this season, have qualified for next week's WTA Tournament of Champions.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova refused to play because of personal reasons. Russia's top player Maria Sharapova had ruled herself out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpischev picked the 186th-ranked Alisa Kleybanova and three newcomers in Alexandra Panova, Irina Khromacheva and Margarita Gasparian to face Italy on clay on Nov. 2-3 in Cagliari, Sardinia.

Italy has won the title three times. Russia is a four-time champion and beat Italy in the final in 2007.

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