Moscow: World number two Maria Sharapova`s participation will considerably boost Russia`s Fed Cup chances this year, national tennis federation boss Shamil Tarpischev insisted Wednesday.
Four-time winners Russia take on two-time champions Germany for a place in the final in Sochi from April 18-19, as the Czech Republic host France in the second semi-final in Ostrava.
"We held talks with her (Sharapova) in recent days," ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Tarpishchev as saying.
"Now we`re all happy that she has agreed to play against Germany. Her participation gives Russia a serious advantage.
"We want to win the Fed Cup this year. Together with Maria we have much more of a chance of doing that."
Sharapova must compete in the women`s team event if she wants to bid for gold in Rio next year.
And the 27-year-old declared earlier Wednesday she was ready for the tie against Germany who Russia lead 3-1 in previous meetings.
"Sochi, I`m coming back!! (with my tennis gear this time)," Sharapova wrote at her official Twitter page.
Russia had a disappointing 2014 campaign, losing 4-0 to Australia in their opening round clash.
But Sharapova made a rare but decisive Fed Cup appearance in February helping Russia beat Poland in the opening round at Krakow.
It was just her fourth Fed Cup appearance since her 2008 debut.