Samantha Stosur of Australia is not underestimating Russia in their Fed Cup tie this weekend in Hobart. - AFP Photo
HOBART (AFP): Australia's top player Samantha Stosur is not underestimating a largely unknown Russian team in their Fed Cup first round tie, saying her young and inexperienced opponents have nothing to lose.
The Russians, losing finalists last year, have been shorn of their big names for the clash this weekend at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart.
Maria Sharapova is currently in Sochi for the Winter Olympics and new captain, former world number two Anastasia Myskina, has opted for four almost unknown players, the highest ranked of whom is 18-year-old Victoria Kan, the world number 158.
In contrast Australia, which is looking to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1993, has strong line-up led by Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, Ashleigh Barty and Storm Sanders.
"I think they are a young team, I think a few of them were in the Fed Cup final last year so they've had a little bit of experience but it's not to say we take them lightly," said world number 16 Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion.
"They've got nothing to lose against us and I'm sure they're going to give it everything they've got.
"So even though we don't know much about them and their rankings aren't that high, everyone starts somewhere and you've got to take every match equally and as importantly."
Of the four Russian players only Irina Khromacheva, 18, has competed in the world team event before, stepping into the second singles spot when Russia lost to Italy in the 2013 final in November.
Australia captain Alicia Molik admitted she has next to no knowledge of the Russians and no footage to watch.
Barty has the most experience after coming up against some of them at junior level, beating world No. 241 Khromacheva in the junior Wimbledon final in 2011.
"I know the girls a little bit better than (Australia's other team members)," Barty told reporters.
"It's been a while since I've played them but I think we can kind of use that information as a team and try and get the best strategy to play them."
Russia has won the last three meetings between the two nations.