Russians ready to host Slovaks in Fed Cup semi

Host Russia will battle the Slovak Republic in a best-of-five Fed Cup semifinal in Moscow this weekend.

Saturday's opening singles will pit Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against Dominika Cibulkova and Maria Kirilenko versus Slovak Daniela Hantuchova on the indoor red clay at Sports Centre Krylatskoye.

Sunday's reverse singles will pit the world No. 13 Kirilenko against the 15th- ranked Cibulkova and the No. 19 Pavlyuchenkova versus the 75th-ranked Hantuchova, while the potentially deciding doubles has a Russian duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina facing a Slovak tandem of Jana Cepelova and Magdalena Rybarikova.

Team Russia is captained by long-time skipper Shamil Tarpischev, while the underdog Slovaks are led by Matej Liptak.

The four-time champion Russians are 2-0 all-time versus the 2002 titlist Slovak Republic, with their last meeting coming in a quarterfinal in Bratislava back in 2001. Russia captured a semifinal tie between the two in Moscow back in 1999.

The winner here will take on the Italy-Czech Republic victor in the Fed Cup final in November.