Russian tennis boss responds as star to ‘switch nationality’

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The head of the Russian Tennis Federation has responded to reports that Varvara Gracheva will switch allegiances to represent France. It comes at the 22-year-old hit a career-high ranking of No 54 in the world this week following a run to the last 16 in Indian Wells. Gracheva is now set to break into the top 50 after making the fourth round in Miami.

Shamil Tarpishchev has spoken out after L’Equipe reported that Russian star Gracheva was in the late stages of finalising her application to become a French citizen. The tennis pro has lived in France since 2016 and is set to represent the nation in her sporting career.

It is understood that Gracheva had been meaning to switch allegiances for several years and her decision is unrelated to the war in Ukraine, which left Russian tennis players to compete as neutrals. And the president of Russia’s tennis federation has now brushed off the reports, claiming the nation was investing into other players.

“While I am at the training camp in Turkey, I have no information about the transition of Varvara Gracheva, so I can’t comment on anything,” Tarpishchev told RBC Sport. While the RTF president was unaware of the situation, he claimed it wouldn’t be a “loss” to have Gracheva represent France.

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The 75-year-old added: “In any case, there are no heavy losses for us. There are certain circumstances. We have a lot of talented guys. We are working for the next generation.”

Gracheva is yet to comment on the matter of switching allegiances but will become France’s No 2 player if she goes through with her application. The 22-year-old will be behind only world No 4 Carolina Garcia – France’s top-ranked player.

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The world No 54 has enjoyed the best season of her young career so far, recently reaching her maiden tour final at the ATX Open where she lost to Marta Kostyuk. Gracheva has now also reached back-to-back fourth rounds at WTA 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami, coming through qualifying in both events.

She will now face 15th seed Petra Kvitova in the round-of-16 at the Miami Open. Gracheva has already downed two top 10 opponents this year – Ons Jabeur earlier in the Miami tournament and Daria Kasatkina on two occasions.

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