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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Sunday Sports: Shamapova Gets the Boot from Russia

Sportingo reports that Russia has finally figured out what La Russophobe has been saying all along: Maria Sharapova sucks. Looks like some people owe LR a mighty big apology. We dare to wonder how long it will take Russians to realize we are right on Putin, too.

Maria Sharapova has been dropped from the Russian Fed Cup team after yet another last-minute withdrawal at last week's Fed Cup semi-finals against the US. The decision to leave out the tall, blonde beauty was confirmed by Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, who stated that he didn't think it appropriate to invite Sharapova to the Fed Cup final. The decision to leave out the world No. 2 from the Russian team was arguably made through frustration, after repeated withdrawals due to 'mystery injuries'. Tarpischev was clearly angered and stated that Sharapova should forget the promises she made to play Fed Cup. He went on to say that it would be inappropriate to allow her to play in the Fed Cup when the team managed to reach the final without her.

Tarpischev's suspicions about Sharapova's withdrawals also had political undertones as he claimed that her decision to pull-out from the team yet again was fuelled by pressure from her advisers, who are American. He went on to say that the American advisers would never allow her to play for Russia. Regardless of the validity of such accusations, the decision to drop Sharapova will probably not have a detrimental impact on the team, which is why Tarpishchev was so outspoken about this decision. Russia have many capable players, and showed this by defeating the U.S. 3-2 last week.

Although Svetlana Kuznetsova also pulled out with injury, Tarpishchev is still keen on inviting her to play for Russia in the finals. This is probably due to her loyalty to the Russian team, playing several ties in the past, including the first round in May, when Russia whitewashed Spain 5-0. Nadia Petrova, Anna Chakvetadze and Elena Vesnina are likely to complete the Russian lineup and even without Sharapova, the Russian team appear strong enough to defeat the Italians in the final. Russia also have home advantage, as the final will be played at Moscow's Luzhniki Arena, an indoor stadium which can hold 10,000 spectators.

Sharapova's decision to pull out ahead of the clash with the U.S. represents her ongoing lack of commitment to play for her country and it will almost certainly harm her chances of playing in the Beijing Olympics next year as eligibility requires a commitment to compete in the Fed Cup.


Jimmy Koidula said...

I almost always agree with the views you present on this blog, and I consider myself well-informed about the subject, especially thanks to the work of Ed Lucas and the great Anna Politkovskaya. However, I feel that your content on Maria Sharapova is ugly, bitchy and out of place. It seems irrelevant when compared to the other, serious issues you handle (and usually well) and these personal attacks just drag the rest of the blog down. Yes, her style's unattractive. Yes, she does soemtimes lose to lower ranks? But isn't that just modern tennis? Being no 2 in the world isn't chance. Some advice: if you need to let off steam in this way, put it on some other blog. Here, it's just immature, inappropriate and annoying.

La Russophobe said...

Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for the comment!

The point of discussing Sharapova is that (a) she's the most famous living Russian and as such a role model and (b) she's a perfect microcosm of Russia's elevation of form over substance and the outside world's failure to realize that is occurring.

Perhaps you didn't notice, but this post isn't about what an overrated player she is, it's about her saying she'd play for the national team, not doing it, then getting fired from it. Given the lofty things that have been said about her by some, it's a major story and we'd be remiss not to run it.

Having said that, just as politicians are more likely to listen to contributors than random citizens, we'd like to ask: What's in it for us? Do you have some evidence that the size of our readership and/or influence will tangibly increase if we stop writing about Sharapova? Are you personally prepared to deliver some benefit to us if we do (for instance, working to place our coverage on readers like Digg or Reddit or to increase our linkage on Technorati? To paraphrase Russians, we can't put your suggestion in our pocket, and merely increasing your personal loyalty to our blog isn't that much of an incentive.

PS: Maybe you've got a little bit of a crush on her that is clouding your judgment? That's just to pay you back for the "bitchy" remark which is hardly consistent with the theme of your remarks. ;)