Serbia won the Davis Cup in 2010 and was the runner-up to the Czech Republic last year. Switzerland's best finish was a loss in the 1992 finals to the United States.
The Swiss look to change that with a very high-profile team, at least in the first round. Federer, eighth in the rankings, joins freshly minted Australian Open champion and third-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka in the Davis Cup series in Serbia.
Federer's presence on the team wasn't announced until Wednesday.
Wawrinka beat world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who has led the Serbia Davis Cup team previously, in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Djokovic, however, is skipping the Davis Cup first round. The next two highest-ranked Serbs players -- Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki -- are also not playing this weekend.
The best-of-five series is to be played on an indoor hard court in Novi Sad, Serbia. The winner goes to the Davis Cup quarterfinals in April against the winner of a series between Belgium and Kazakhstan.
Federer is 43-18 all-time in Davis Cup play, first playing in 1999. He was 2-3 in 2012, however, winning two singles matches in the World Group playoff versus the Netherlands. He teamed with Wawrinka but lost two doubles matches that year and also dropped a four-set decision to John Isner in a first-round match.
Federer was tabbed by Swiss captain Severin Luthi to open the series in Serbia against No. 268-ranked Ilija Bozoljac with Wawrinka drawing No. 102 Dusan Lajovic in the second singles match.
Federer is to open the reverse singles Sunday against Lajovic with Wawrinka taking in Bozoljac in the fifth match of the series.