Heat of the battle favours teenager
EXCITING Bulgarian teenager Sesil Karatantcheva yesterday admitted she was in shock after wearing down heat-stressed Russian veteran Elena Likhovtseva in a dramatic Gold Coast second-round match.
Karatantcheva, the French Open junior champion, was rightly proud of how she somehow halted a streak of nine straight games against her, coming from 0-3 down in the third set to edge out Likhovtseva, seeded seventh, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3).
Both players were warned by umpire Scott Ray for taking too much time between points in the third set of their Uncle Tobys Hardcourts encounter and Karatantcheva, 16, later sympathised with Likhovtseva over how the Russian had been docked a point penalty for a second delay-of-game offence.
Karatantcheva will have the resilience of youth on her side today when she tries to upset second seed Patty Schnyder in their quarter-final after a dramatic third set during which she found it "impossible to breathe".
The flamboyant Bulgarian, who has risen to No. 133 in the rankings, lay on her back after clinching match point after also trailing 1-3 in a punishing tiebreak.
Likhovtseva had called for a trainer at 4-3 in the third set to treat her for heat stress, but found the reserves to break Karatantcheva's serve when the teenager served for the match at 6-5.
"I believed I could still win even when I was behind, but I feel kind of shocked that I did," the Florida-based Karatantcheva said.
"I felt like: 'I'm young, so I have more mental priority than she does'.
"She got the point penalty, but the heat was unbelievable. You could get no oxygen after the long rallies in the third set."
On a steamy afternoon when tempers frayed, top seed Nadia Petrova admitted she has sore legs from her difficult straight-sets wins over China's Jie Zheng and Na Li.
Petrova received a warning for racquet abuse during a 7-5, 6-3 verdict yesterday over Li.
Schnyder, seeded second six years after winning the Gold Coast title, reached the quarter-finals without losing a set following a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of American qualifier Angela Haynes.
Schnyder has sought to duplicate her 2004 Australian Open preparation by rehiring Adelaide player Tim Creighton as a hitting partner to help her get a slice of the Grand Slam cake.