Giorgi risks being left off Italy's Olympic tennis team
ROME (AP) Camila Giorgi risks being left off Italy's Olympic tennis squad for this year's Rio de Janeiro Games after severing ties with her national federation, and she plans to skip next month's Italian Open due to the dispute.
''The ITF (International Tennis Federation) rules say that players must be `in good standing' with their federation to qualify for the games. For me, right now Giorgi is not in good standing,'' Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi said Tuesday.
Last month, the 49th-ranked Giorgi announced in a brief statement that she was cutting relations with the federation and would not play on Italy's Fed Cup team for this weekend's World Group playoff against Spain. She will compete in qualifying for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, instead.
''We just asked for a break so she could have a good, positive period of competition - just like many other players have done so before her,'' Giorgi's father and coach, Sergio, told The Associated Press. ''Once she's away from all the hate and negativity it will only help her. She just needs a calm environment and to be happy.''
With the national federation also being the organizer of the Italian Open, the tournament isn't in the Giorgis plans anymore.
''It's not a friendly place for Camila and us,'' Sergio Giorgi said. ''Camila needs to be at ease.''
Sergio Giorgi added that Camila is no longer training at a federation facility in Tirrenia.
''They've barred us from entering Tirrenia,'' he said, specifying that the family does not plan to leave Italy even though he is Argentine.
Binaghi said that on Monday he sent a letter to Sergio Giorgi seeking 160,000 euros ($180,000) for broken contracts and the federation is likely to open disciplinary proceedings against the Giorgis.
''We're waiting for them to pay up and they certainly won't. So at that point, it's difficult to be in good standing with the people who you asked for help,'' Binaghi said. ''We've cared for her over the years and then when they win two matches they forget about us.''
On Sunday, Giorgi lost in the final of Katowice Open for the third consecutive year. She was beaten 6-4, 6-0 by eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
The 74th-ranked Karin Knapp took Giorgi's place on the Fed Cup team, which also includes Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone.
The 24-year-old Giorgi has played in five Fed Cup ties for Italy, with a record of three wins and five losses. She's in position to qualify for Rio, with the top 56 in the rankings getting direct acceptances for the Olympic tournament.
Italian media have been highly critical of Sergio Giorgi, suggesting that Camila will express her full potential only if she finds a new coach.
''That doesn't hurt me. I'm used to it. It's ridiculous. Camila laughs. It's not a problem,'' Sergio Giorgi said. ''People can say whatever they want.''
Sergio Giorgi is convinced that his daughter can reach the top five of the rankings.
''I'm not sure when,'' he said. ''But she'll get there.''
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf