‘Sharapova must play for Russia if she wants to go to Olympics’

Moscow, Jan 27 (IANS) Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova must play for the national team next week at the Federation Cup fixture if she wants to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shamil Tarpishchev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), has said.

“If Sharapova wants to play at the Olympics, she will have to play for the national team,” Tarpishchev said on Tuesday, reports TASS.

“There are regulations set by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). If Maria does not want to play for the national team but still wants to travel to the Olympics, she will have to lock horns with the ITF,” Tarpishchev added.

Sharapova announced earlier on Tuesday she wanted to take care of her injured forearm and was unlikely to play for the national team at the 2016 Federations Cup encounter against the Dutch squad in Moscow on February 6-7.

Sharapova was knocked out on Tuesday from the 2016 Australian Open after losing in a quarter-final match to American Serena Williams in straight sets 4-6, 1-6. The match lasted little over than an hour and a half.

Last year also Sharapova lost to Williams at the Australian Open as they both clashed in the final of the Grand Slam series tournament.

Speaking after the match in an interview posted with the Australia Open official website, Sharapova said, “I’m going to go and take care of my forearm first.”

“I think that’s really important,” she was quoted as saying.

“I’m going to go to Moscow, be part of the team. I don’t think I’ll be playing. Then I’m not sure.”

Commenting on her statement, Tarpishchev said: “I do not know why she made such statement after her match with Williams.”

“Perhaps, she and her managers should thoroughly think it over once again,” Tarpishchev added.

Sharapova, who is currently world’s No.5 in the rankings, repeatedly stated earlier that her main goal this year was to play at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

However, the 28-year-old tennis star needs playing for the national team in order to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

In line with the regulations of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), a player must perform for the national team at least three times over the course of a four-year period.

Last year, Sharapova played for the national squad twice. It was the 2015 Fed Cup quarter-final encounter against the team from Poland and then the final match against the Czech team.

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