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Defending Champ France Squares off With Russia for Fed Cup Title


Defending champion France faces a Russian team that includes two major tournament winners in the Fed Cup women's tennis finals beginning Saturday in Moscow. A depleted French team takes on a Russian squad whose members are all ranked in the top 25 in the world.

The French squad of Nathalie Dechy, Tatiana Golovin, Emilie Loit and Marion Bartoli faces a Russian squad that includes French Open winner Anastasia Myskina and U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Vera Zvonareva and Elena Likhovtseva complete the Russian squad.

Kuznetsova begins the best-of-five match final at Moscow's Krylatskoe Ice Stadium Saturday against Nathalie Dechy. Myskina plays 16-year-old Golovin in the second singles match. Kuznestova lost to Dechy in their only other meeting this year in Gold Coast, Australia, but the Russian is confident of winning this week. "I am really looking positively from this match. I am looking forward, to play my good game. And I know the public hopefully is going to help me. And I know I am going to have pressure because I play the first match, but I like it and I hope to handle it," she says.

All four of Russia's team members are ranked in the top 25 while France is missing Mary Pierce because of injury and Amelie Mauresmo, who decided not to play. French team captain Guy Forget says his team has to play like it can win even if its best players are sidelined. "We have nothing to lose and sometimes surprises can happen in tennis. Not often but they do happen. And hopefully if we can produce some good quality tennis throughout the weekend, maybe we have a small chance. If we win it will be one of the biggest upsets ever in Fed Cup history probably," he says.

France has won the Fed Cup three times and is three-three against Russia in the competition. Russia has reached the final four times before but has never won the trophy.

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