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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Row over Sharapova's Fed Cup show
Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has yet to represent Russia despite being born in Siberia
Members of Russia's winning Fed Cup team have questioned the motives of Maria Sharapova who attended the final against Italy to show her support.

Sharapova, who is nursing an injured shoulder, has never played Fed Cup for Russia but cheered from the sidelines.

But world number two Svetlana Kuznetsova said: "She said she wanted to be our practise partner but if you can't play how then can you practise?"

Players cannot play at the Olympics if they are not available for Fed Cup.

The Russian team wrapped up their third Fed Cup win in four years on Saturday, but questions about Sharapova's presence were in danger of overshadowing the team's achievements.

When asked about Sharapova's role as a supporter, Kuznetsova replied: "Oh please, don't ask me that question again. I had enough already."

Sharapova, 20, was born in Siberia but moved to America as a youngster where she was coached in Florida at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

She is still based there and although she was due to make her debut for Russia this year, a last-minute pull-out from the Fed Cup semi-final lead to her being dropped.

"If you haven't played Fed Cup all year, it wouldn't be fair to just show up for the final," world number five Anna Chakvetadze said.

"It's not fair to all the other girls who committed themselves to the team's cause."

While Sharapova must still convince her team-mates, she did score important points with the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

"Her presence in Moscow certainly didn't hurt," an ITF official told Reuters on Sunday.

"She was injured and couldn't play, but by being here she clearly demonstrated her commitment to the Fed Cup and that will certainly enhance her chances (of playing at next year's Olympics). It's a big plus for her."

Kuznetsova wraps up Fed Cup win
15 Sep 07 |  Tennis
Sharapova to miss Fed Cup debut
02 Apr 07 |  Tennis


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