Kirilenko leads Russia vs. Japan
Maria Kirilenko will face veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm in the opening singles when Russia hosts Japan in their first Fed Cup matchup on Saturday.
Ekaterina Makarova will play Japan’s top player Ayumi Morita in the second match.
Russia is without its most experienced Fed Cup players, Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. Maria Sharapova was not available for the indoor tie at the Olympic Stadium.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was originally nominated, pulled out with a shoulder injury. She was substituted by 18-year-old newcomer Margarita Gasparyan, who will pair with Elena Vesnina for the doubles against Morita and Misaki Doi on Sunday.
Four-time champion Russia lost to Serbia at home in the semifinals last season, while Japan beat Belgium in the World Group playoffs to return to the eight-team elite for the first time since 2007.
The winner of the tie will face either Serbia or Slovakia in the semifinals on April 20-21.