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Home > Sports > Tennis > Reuters > Report

Russians dislike Sharapova's father

Gennady Fyodorov | November 24, 2004 11:40 IST

Russia Fed Cup coach Larisa Neiland feels it would be difficult for Maria Sharapova to break into the Russian team next year because of her father.

"I don't think she'll find it easy being on the same team with all the rest of our girls," said Neiland, speaking on the eve of the Fed Cup Final Four.

The 17-year-old Wimbledon champion has been kept out of the team by French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova as Russia looking for their first Fed Cup title.

They face Austria in the semi-finals in Moscow, with defending champions France up against Spain.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev said he would welcome Florida-based Sharapova next season, although six-times grand slam doubles champion Neiland believes the inclusion of Sharapova could harm team spirit.

"Maria's main problem is her father and I just don't see how he would coexist with other girls' parents and team officials," Neiland, who became the first Soviet player to win a Wimbledon title in 1991 when she teamed up with Natasha Zvereva, told Reuters.

"You can't just go by rankings alone in selecting the team," she said. "You need great team spirit, togetherness in order to make a really strong squad."

Pointing to the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, won by Sharapova last Monday in Los Angeles, Neiland said: "Every time Maria was playing a Russian girl, her father's behavior was simply outrageous, nasty and out of control.

"He basically tells everyone 'to get lost'. I just don't see how he could work with the rest of us," she added.

Myskina, who lost to Sharapova in the semi-finals, also complained about the behaviour of her father during their match.


"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," Myskina was quoted as saying in the Russia media.

Yuri Sharapova received a warning from the chair umpire for coaching his daughter during the Myskina match.

"I remember a couple of years ago (Jennifer) Capriati and her father had similar problems with the U.S. team," Neiland said.

Capriati was dropped from the U.S. team on the eve of a tie with Austria in 2002 after the French Open champion ignored team rules and practised with her father.

"You don't want someone from the outside to disrupt the team's preparations," Neiland said. "That's why sometimes it's better to leave someone out of the team and not have that negative influence among the players."

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