Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2015 Fed Cup semifinal between host Russia and Germany will get underway Saturday when two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Julia Goerges at Sochi's Adler Arena.
Kuznetsova-Goerges will be followed by a bout between 19th-ranked German Sabine Lisicki and world No. 38 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
On Sunday in Sochi, reverse singles will pit the 24th-ranked Kuznetsova against the former Wimbledon runner-up Lisicki and Pavlyuchenkova versus the No. 63 Goerges, while a doubles affair has German stars Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber taking on a Russian pairing of Elena Vesnina and two-time major runner-up Vera Zvonareva.
Team Russia, captained by Anastasia Myskina, is playing without injured world No. 2 star Maria Sharapova this week, while the Germans, piloted by Barbara Rittner, elected to keep their top-two players, Petkovic and Kerber, out of the singles lineup for now.
"The number one and two ranked players [Petkovic and Kerber] came in from Charleston and only arrived here on Tuesday/Wednesday night. So its always tough," said Rittner, giving her reason for the decision.
"They have had long weeks, successful weeks in the U.S. and I had two players who were fresh. They have been here from Sunday and they had good practice sessions and we have a strong team," the German captain added.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two nations and Russia holds a 3-1 lead in the head-to-head. Germany, however, won the last meeting between the two sides when it prevailed 3-2 in the 2002 World Group first round.
Russia has lifted the Fed Cup on four occasions (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008), while Germany has been crowned champions twice (1987, 1992).
The winner in Sochi will face the Czech Republic-France victor in the World Group final in November.
Germany lost to the Czechs in last year's Fed Cup final.