The Russia team, featuring Chakvetadze, world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and the doubles team of Nadia Petrova and Elena Vesnina, is a heavy favorite to stop the Italians from repeating as Fed Cup champions. The best-of-five series is to be played indoors on a hard court.
After the Chakvetadze-Schiavone opener Saturday, Kuznetsova is to play Mara Santangelo. The schedule calls for reverse singles -- Kuznetsova verses Schiavone and Chakvetadze against Santangelo -- on Sunday before the doubles match. Italy is to send Santangelo and Roberta Vinci against Petrova and Vesnina in that final match.
Italy captured its first Fed Cup in its first finals appearance when it topped host Belgium 3-2 last year. The Russians won the event in 2004 and '05 and are 2-4 all-time in finals.