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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Sharapova keen to play for Russia
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova will play at the Kremlin Cup for the first time this week
Maria Sharapova has pledged herself to the Russian cause as she prepares to make her debut at the Kremlin Cup.

The Siberian-born world number one, who plays in Moscow for the first time this week, says she is also keen to make her debut for the Russian Fed Cup team.

"I definitely want to play for Russia in Fed Cup competition," said the 18-year-old, who left for the United States with her father 11 years ago.

"I just don't know when I'll be ready to make my Fed Cup debut."

Fifth seed Patty Schnyder was the major name in action in Moscow on Monday, struggling past Anna Chakvetadze 2-6 6-2 7-5.

Elena Likhovtseva beat fellow Russian Vera Douchevina 3-6 6-2 7-5.

Even when I'm in America I feel Russian
Maria Sharapova

Sharapova, who starts her campaign later in the week, has chosen in the past to concentrate on improving her singles ranking rather than play in the Fed Cup.

"I didn't play (Fed Cup) this year because it would have been too tough for me but in the future, yes, it's definitely one of my big goals," she said.

"I also want to play in the Olympics and would love to represent Russia there as well."

Such suggestions have in the past been greeted less than enthusiastically by her compatriots, most notably Anastasia Myskina who once threatened to quit the Russian team if Sharapova was picked.

Svetlana Kuznetsova has described Sharapova as "more American than Russian" but, speaking in Moscow, the world number one disagreed.

"I definitely feel Russian inside, even when I'm in America I feel Russian," said Sharapova.

"But coming here for the first time in years it made me feel even more so."


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