Sharapova back for Russia

The world number two was included in the Russian side for their World Group clash in Poland next month when nominations were made on Wednesday.

In what is the strongest Russia team for some time, Sharapova is joined by former French and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Vitalia Diatchenko.

Sharapova last played in the Fed Cup in 2012 and has not made herself available for recent ties. However, she needs to do so now to be eligible for next year???s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, hence her return.

Poland, back in the World Group for the first time in 21 years, are expected to be led by Agnieszka Radwanska.

Defending champions Czech Republic will be without their two leading players in Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova for their away tie in Canada. Rising star Karolina Pliskova, who recently made the WTA final in Sydney, will instead head the team.

Last year???s runners-up Germany have named an unchanged team to entertain Australia.

Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic are two of the world???s top 13 and they will be supported by former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges.

The Aussies will be led by former US Open champion Sam Stosur with Casey Dellacqua their likely second singles player.

For the other first-round tie, French captain Amelie Mauresmo has chosen an as-expected team to face Italy. Alize Cornet is joined by Caroline Garcia, Kiki Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier in the line-up.

The ties will all take place on February 7 and 8 with the winner progressing to April’s semi-finals.