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MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Friday he hoped that titled tennis star Maria Sharapova would qualify for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
"I dearly hope that Maria Sharapova will play at the Olympic Games in Rio-de-Janeiro," Zhukov said. "However, all required regulations should be observed in order for it to happen."
Sharapova, who is currently World’s No. 6 in the ranking list of the Women Tennis Association (WTA), repeatedly stated earlier that her main goal this year was to play at the 2016 Summer Olympics. However, the 28-year-old tennis star, needs playing for the national team in order to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.
In line with the regulations of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), a player must perform for the national team at least three times over the course of a four-year period. Last year, Sharapova played for the national squad twice and it was the 2015 Fed Cup quarterfinal encounter against the team from Poland and then the final match against the Czech team.
This weekend she is set to play for the national squad at the 2016 Federation Cup’s quarterfinal against the Dutch team in Moscow.
Earlier media reports cited Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud as saying that this year’s quarterfinal match between Russia and the Netherlands would be allegedly the last one for her playing in the national squad.
In an interview with TASS on Friday, Sharapova said it was too early to speak of her career’s end as part of the national team and the 2016 Federation Cup’s quarterfinal encounter against the Dutch team this weekend would be possibly not her last time playing for Russia.
"It is very premature to say that I will be not playing for the Russian national team at the Federation Cup [series] and the encounter against the Netherlands will be the last one for me," she said. "The season has just kicked off and I do not know how it will be developing for me."
Current Federation Cup’s vice champion Russia is scheduled to take on the world group newcomers the Netherlands on February 6-7 on a hard indoors court of the Olympiisky Sports Complex in Moscow.
Both teams already met each other previously on three occasions with Russia winning all of the clashes against the Dutch squad.
The nominated players for the Russian team are: Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ekaterina Makarova and Darya Kasatkina. The Dutch side intends to line up Kiki Bertens, Richel Hogenkamp, Cindy Burger and Arantxa Rus.
In other quarterfinal encounters of the 2016 Federation Cup this weekend reigning champions the Czech Republic will take on Romania, France will meet Italy and Germany will play the Swiss team.
The winners of the quarterfinal fixtures will play for the spots in the final on April 16-17. The title match has been scheduled for November 12-13.