Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova could be left off Russia Olympic team, official says

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Maria Sharapova doesn’t plan to play for Russia in Fed Cup against the Netherlands in the first week of February, which will jeopardize her Olympic chances.

“If she withdraws from playing with Netherlands and we lose the match she will not play at the Olympics,” Russian tennis federation boss Shamil Tarpishchev said, according to Agence France-Presse, citing comments in Russian to news agency TASS.

Sharapova must be part of a Fed Cup team one more time to be eligible for the Rio Games.

Sharapova was named to Russia’s initial team last week for its Fed Cup date with the Netherlands in Moscow from Feb. 6-7. Russia will be heavily favored to advance, since it has seven players ranked in the top 91. The Netherlands’ best player is ranked No. 95.

Sharapova, who lost to Serena Williams in the 2012 Olympic final and again in the Australian Open quarterfinals Tuesday, said after her latest match that she doesn’t plan to play again until March due to a forearm injury that she’s dealt with since before last week’s Fed Cup announcement.

“I’m going to go and take care of my forearm first,” she said Tuesday. “I think that’s really important. I’m going to go to Moscow [for Fed Cup], be part of the team. I don’t think I’ll be playing. Then I’m not sure.

“But I think this will be a time to just get myself ready for a long year. I don’t see myself playing anything before Indian Wells [in March].”

Regardless of if Russia wins or loses against the Netherlands, it will play Fed Cup again in April, but Tarpishchev said Sharapova’s Olympic eligibility will be tied to Russia winning in February.

“If Sharapova wants to compete at the Olympics she has to play for Russia in the Fed Cup,” Tarpishchev said, according to AFP. “That’s the rule, and she needs either to play against Netherlands or in Russia’s next Fed Cup match if we manage to go through.”

The International Tennis Federation said Sharapova doesn’t need to play Fed Cup to be eligible, but she must be on the team.

“In order to complete her eligibility for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Maria Sharapova must be part of the final nominated Russian team,” an ITF official said in an email. “She does not need to contest a rubber, however she must be present at the tie. If she chooses not to join the team for the first round [against the Netherlands], she will have the opportunity to meet the Olympic criteria again in the semifinals and play-offs in April.”

Sharapova missed the 2008 Olympics due to a shoulder injury and the 2004 Olympics because she wasn’t ranked high enough when the Russian Olympic team was determined, before she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon that year.

She carried the Russian flag at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and was among the final torch bearers at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

MORE: Serena Williams considers Olympic mixed doubles

NBC Olympics producer Dan Levinsohn contributed to this report.

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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