Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Sharapova to miss Fed Cup match with the US

AGENCIES, MOSCOW AND CASTELLANETA MARINA, Italy

The head of Russia's tennis federation, Shamil Tarpishchev, hugs Maria Sharapova, who is holding an award from the federation, during a press conference in Moscow on Oct. 10, 2005.

PHOTO: AP

Russia will be missing Maria Sharapova and maybe their coach for this weekend's Fed Cup semi-final against the US while defending champions Italy face a daunting task against France.

World No. 2 Sharapova has pulled out of the US clash in Stowe, Vermont, saying she was not match fit, having initially agreed to make her Fed Cup debut in the hardcourt semi.

In a statement posted on her Web site on Tuesday, the 2006 US Open champion said she had a "tremendous amount of swelling" and doctors advised her to rest her shoulder for the next 10 days.

"I know this withdrawal is very frustrating for all my Russian fans, but I promise you it is way more frustrating for me," Sharapova said. "Nothing would [have] made me happier than beating the Americans on American soil."

Sharapova has been suffering with a shoulder injury since April but Russian tennis officials have accused her of being selfish and questioned whether her US entourage had influenced the decision.

Russia's Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev could also be forced to miss the tie after he said he had been denied a US visa.

Tarpishchev has asked the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to move the tie to a neutral country and even considered boycotting the event.

"The Americans always like to talk all about human rights and democracy but they are the first ones to deny others the same rights," he said.

A spokesperson for the US embassy in Moscow said Tarpishchev's visa application was being processed by US authorities in Washington.

In the other semi on Castellaneta Marina's clay, France visit Italy without Wimbledon singles runners-up Marion Bartoli after captain Georges Goven turned down her request to be accompanied by her father and coach, Walter.

Goven instead picked Amelie Mauresmo, who lost her Wimbledon crown when she was beaten by Nicole Vaidisova in the fourth round, as well as Tatiana Golovin, Nathalie Dechy and Severine Bremond.

Italy, who hammered China 5-0 in the Fed Cup quarters, know they will have to play substantially better than they did at Wimbledon if they are to have any chance of defending their title in the final in September.

Francesca Schiavone, Tathiana Garbin, and Roberta Vinci were dumped out in the second round while Mara Santangelo lost in round three to Mauresmo, whom she could face again over the weekend program.

"I really want to be part of the adventure, and help the girls reach the final," Mauresmo told www.fedcup.com. "Fed Cup could be a good way for me to get going; I love the team spirit of it."

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