Dementieva to lead weak Russia team for U.S. Fed Cup tie

MOSCOW: World number six Elena Dementieva will lead an under-strength Russian team in this month''s Fed Cup semi-final against the United States, the Russian tennis federation said Thursday.

Captain Shamil Tarpishchev also named world number 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 62nd-ranked Ekaterina Makarova and Alla Kudryavtseva (77) for the April 24-25 tie in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Russians, winners of four Fed Cup titles between 2004 and 2008, have lost world number three Dinara Safina, fifth-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova (14) to various injuries this year.

The 18-year-old Melanie Oudin will lead the U.S. team, which also includes Bethanie Mattek-Sands and the world''s top ranked doubles player Liezel Huber.

The Americans also left a spot vacant for either Serena or Venus Williams, hoping that one of them will be healthy enough to compete.