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Fitness worries for Kuznetsova
Fitness worries for Kuznetsova
By Paul Malone
January 22, 2005
SVETLANA Kuznetsova faced more problems last night, with ankle and wrist injuries clouding her Australian Open progress at Melbourne Park.
The Russian hit the headlines earlier this week when Belgian authorities said she had tested positive to the drug ephedrine at an exhibition event last month.
Last night a laboured 6-3 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Brazilian Mariana Diaz-Oliva put the US Open champion into the fourth round.
But she jarred her left wrist when she fell in her doubles match last night - in which she and Australian partner Alicia Molik beat Italian Flavia Pennetta and Estonian Maret Ani 6-0 6-3.
Kuznetsova fell heavily next to the chair of the lineswoman as she was trying to return a lob at 5-0 in the first set - laughing to Molik about the collision.
The singles No.5 seed had the wrist strapped at the next changeover and called for the trainer at the end of the first set to strap her left ankle.
Kuznetsova played out her doubles match effectively and it remains to be seen what shape she is in tomorrow for her all-Russian fourth-round singles match against 18-year-old Vera Douchevina, ranked No.65.
Douchevina, a 7-5 6-4 winner over Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, skittled compatriot Vera Zvonareva, the world No.11, in the second round.
She shrugged when asked if last year's grand slam titles for Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, 17, and Anastasia Myskina, 21, made her more ambitious.
"She [Sharapova] is younger and I don't know ... I am happy for them," she said.
"I played Kuznetsova in Warsaw on clay [in April] and she beat me 6-0 6-1. As this match is on hardcourts it was good for me to see her match today."
Glamour girl Sharapova moved into the fourth round with a 6-0 6-2 demolition of China's Na Li at Rod Laver Arena last night.
The 17-year-old Russian broke her Chinese opponent in the first game of each set - Li not holding serve until the second game of the second set.
The increasing merriment of spectators at Sharapova's high-pitched grunts drew a plea for silence from the crowd from British umpire Alison Lang.
A spectator yelled "shut up" in response to the request by Lang, who had intervened after Li raised her hands to request the umpire to quieten the chuckling from the crowd.
"What about telling the player to be quiet?" one fan shouted.
Fourth seed Sharapova now plays 15th seed Silvia Farina Elia of Italy in the next round.
Farina Elia, 32, handed out a 6-1 6-0 third-round hammering to plucky British qualifier Elena Baltacha.
Baltacha said she had a "lot of fun" in the match, even though it yielded her just eight points in the second set.
Another top-10 Russian, US Open finalist Elena Dementieva, has done little to hose down speculation that she blames Kuznetsova for her being implicated by Belgian sports minister Claude Eerdekens in the recent drug affair.
Dementieva, one of the two other players implicated by
Eerdekens - for almost 24 hours before he then named Kuznetsova as the player to have returned a positive drug test - said on Thursday she had not spoken to Kuznetsova about the issue and did not know when she would.
When asked if she would speak to Kuznetsova again at all, Dementieva would only say: "It's in the past".
For the moment, tennis courts have become a refuge for Kuznetsova, especially against opponents like Diaz-Oliva. The Brazilian was not credited with a winner in the first set and hit only eight in the second, to the Russian's match total of 33.
But Kuznetsova failed to serve out the match when up 5-4 in the second set, as she became agitated about a catalogue of missed opportunities.
She regained her focus to come from 3-5 in the tie-break to book a round-of-16 clash with Douchevina.
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