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U.S. ready to face weak Belgian squad

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Moscow, Russia (Sports Network) - The draw was revealed Tuesday for this week's Fed Cup semifinals and the 17-time champion United States appears to have an easy tie against Belgium, which will play without its top stars -Hardenne and . This week's Fed Cup semis and final will be staged at Moscow's Olympic Stadium, with the semis coming on Wednesday and Thursday and the final on Saturday and Sunday at Europe's largest indoor arena.

The U.S. and Belgium will get their tie rolling on Wednesday with the opening singles, as veteran American will face and will encounter unheralded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens. On Thursday, reverse singles call for Shaughnessy to battle Callens and Raymond to take on Flipkens, while the final rubber, the doubles, will pit an American tandem of Martina Navratilova and Raymond against a Belgian duo of Elke Clijsters and Caroline Maes. Clijsters is the younger sister of the world No. 2 .

, the U.S. and French Open runner-up, decided against playing this week because she was unhappy with the scheduling of the event, while the world No. 1 Henin-Hardenne, the U.S. and French Open champion, made herself unavailable because of health reasons.

Meanwhile, the legendary 47-year-old Navratilova will play her first Fed Cup tennis in eight years and will also become the oldest-ever performer in the 40-year competition. The native Czechoslovakian is a brilliant 37-0 lifetime in Fed Cup action, including 17-0 in doubles.

The U.S. is captained by yet another legend, Billie Jean King, while Belgium is led by Ivo Van Aken. The Americans are 2-0 all-time against Belgium, and the two teams last met in the 2000 semifinals, with the U.S. winning en route to its last Fed Cup title.

Belgium captured its lone Fed Cup title in 2001.

The U.S.-Belgium winner will meet the Russia-France victor this weekend.

The host Russians appear to be the team to beat this week, as all four of their women rank inside the top 15 in the world and they also have a decided home-court advantage.

Russia and France will open things up on Wednesday with singles matches between and France's and and Frenchwoman . The world No. 4 Mauresmo is fresh off her runner-up finish at the season-ending WTA Championships. On Thursday, Myskina will meet Mauresmo and Zvonareva will face Pierce, followed by a potentially-deciding doubles match between Russians and and Frenchwomen and Pierce.

The Russians have never hoisted the Fed Cup, while France claimed its lone championship in 1997. Russia is 3-2 all-time versus France.

Russia is captained by Shamil Tarpischev, while France is led by Guy Forget.

All individual rubbers are best-of-three, while the ties are best-of-five.

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