Russia without top players vs. Italy
MOSCOW -- Russia will be missing its top players when it faces Italy in the Fed Cup final in November.
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.