Russia wants Sharapova to save energy for Olympic matches

MOSCOW -- Officials have rejected Maria Sharapova's request to carry the Russian flag in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

"She wanted to be a flag-bearer but I advised
against it," Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev said Wednesday.
"I don't want her to spend three or four hours in hot
weather waiting to march in the opening ceremony. We want her to
be fresh, not tired, during her matches."

Sharapova, ranked second in the world, has decided against living in the
athletes village during the Games.

"She said she didn't want to stay in the Olympic village
because it's very noisy there and she needed plenty of rest
between matches," Tarpishchev said.

Sharapova headlines the Russian women's tennis team in
China. She is joined by Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva
and Dinara Safina, ranked fourth, fifth and ninth in the
world, respectively.

Tarpishchev said Dementieva, who won the silver medal at the
2000 Sydney Olympics, also turned down a chance to stay in the
athletes village.

"That's not a problem for us and we will book a hotel room
for them," he said. "The problem might be the traffic and
transportation from the hotel to the tennis venue and back."