Russia’s Fed Cup tennis team does not perform to its best because of a lack of money to tempt the country’s best players to play, Svetlana Kuznetsova said Sunday.
Russia last won the Fed Cup in 2008, and was defeated 3-2 at home by Serbia at the semifinal stage Sunday.
“If more money were allocated, it would be possible to improve the situation, possible to make the best players play,” Kuznetsova said.
Some Russian players were less motivated by patriotism than a desire to qualify for the Olympics through Fed Cup participation, she suggested.
“If you love to play for your country, that’s one thing, but if you play for the sake of the Olympics or something else, that’s another.”
Russia’s top-ranked player Maria Sharapova played one match for Russia against Spain in January before withdrawing with a cold, securing her place at the Olympics. She was not included in the squad to face Serbia, while Russian No. 2 Vera Zvonareva withdrew blaming a minor injury.
Younger players were less keen to represent Russia and more motivated by money than comparative veterans such as Kuznetsova, she suggested.
“We didn’t have the funding either, but our generation, Kournikova, Myskina, Dementieva, Safina and I, many other girls, overcame that. Everything was completely different,” Kuznetsova said.
“But now those playing tennis are either the children of very wealthy people, who have nothing to strive for or those who can’t play, who have nowhere to go.”
Kuznetsova won the U.S. Open in 2004, aged 19, and the French Open five years later. She is now ranked No. 27 in the world and last won a major singles tournament in Beijing in 2009.