Maria Sharapova - Fed Cup Participation

Fed Cup Participation

Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of seven, but retains her Russian citizenship, and is therefore eligible to play in the Fed Cup for Russia. However, the behavior of Sharapova's father during her matches on the WTA Tour, combined with a perceived lack of commitment by her to the Fed Cup, has made her selection for the Russian Fed Cup team cause controversy in the past.

After Sharapova had beaten fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina at the 2004 WTA Tour Championships, Myskina criticized Sharapova's father, saying: "He was just yelling and screaming instructions to her and I thought he just might jump right on the court at one point in the match." At the Fed Cup semi-finals two weeks later, Myskina stated she would stop playing for Russia if Sharapova joined the Russian team the following season: "If she joins our team next season you won't see me there for sure. His behaviour is totally incorrect, simply rude. I don't want to be around people like him." Larisa Neiland, assistant to Russia Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, added: "Her father's behaviour (at the WTA Tour Championships) was simply outrageous. I just don't see how he could work with the rest of us." However Tarpishchev himself played down the problem, insisting: "I feel that things will calm down soon and we'll have Myskina, Sharapova, Kuznetsova and everyone else playing for Russia."

At the end of 2005, Sharapova stated she was now keen to make her Fed Cup debut and was set to play against Belgium in April 2006, but withdrew. She later withdrew from ties against Spain in April 2007 and against the United States in July 2007 because of injuries. The latter withdrawal led to Russia's captain saying she would be "ineligible for selection" for the Fed Cup final in September. However, Sharapova attended the final, cheering from the sidelines and acting as a "hitting partner" in practices, resulting in some of her Russian teammates implying that she was attending only to enable her to play at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (rules state that players must have "shown commitment" to Fed Cup in order to play). Svetlana Kuznetsova said, "She said she wanted to be our practice partner but if you can't play how then can you practice?"

Sharapova finally made her Fed Cup debut in February 2008, in Russia's quarterfinal tie against Israel. She won both her singles rubbers, against Tzipora Obziler and Shahar Pe'er, helping Russia to a 4–1 victory. For the semifinals, she was given permission to skip the tie, with Tarpishchev announcing that she will be on the team for the final. However, the date of the final coincided with the lay-off from her shoulder injury, and thus she did not play.

In the 2011 first round tie, Sharapova played Virginie Razzano of France and lost. Sharapova was supposed to play Alize Cornet but she was suffering from a viral illness. So teammate, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova played instead of Sharapova where she would go to help Russia come back from their 0–2 deficit by beating Alize Cornet 3–6 6–3 6–2 and secure the win for Russia against France 3–2. Sharapova continued to participate in 2012 and helped Russia to a 3–2 win against Spain in the first round tie. Sharapova defeated Silvia Soler Espinosa in the first rubber, but was unable to play her second rubber due to illness.

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