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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Myskina: the Russian who came first is now running behind

The TR Newsletter: FRIDAY, JUNE 23, No. 180
Myskina: the Russian who came first is now running behind
Will face Henin-Hardenne in final


FROM EASTBOURNE – She looks sufficiently statuesque to have passed for one of Tsar Nicolas II's four daughters; she has been photographed as Lady Godiva; she was the first Russian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Yet in 2005 it all went wrong, both on and off the court. Now Anastasia Myskina is returning to the world's Top 10 and facing the player of the moment in a tournament final.

Myskina says she played what she described as her "best match of the year" in beating the Roland Garros runner-up and ‘04 Eastbourne champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the Hastings Direct Championships final. The speed around the court was back, the lazy-looking but lethal forehands were hitting their target and the flat backhands were devastating in their speed off the still green grass.

It was the Myskina of 2003 and 2004. She reached the final at Eastbourne in 2002, losing to Chanda Rubin, after which she had the confidence to say she felt she could win Wimbledon. She didn't, the best she has done in London is a stuttering quarterfinal a year ago (although she did win a fourth-round classic against Elena Dementieva), but the belief from the slight figure with the shyness that makes her nervous English rush by in double-quick time was clear to see.

Amid a generation of top quality Russians, Myskina never looked like being the one to reach the summit first. Dementieva had more firepower from the baseline, Nadia Petrova had the more athletic body, Maria Sharapova had unrivalled self-belief and Svetlana Kuznetsova's all-round game packed a deceptive punch. But in the Paris spring of 2004, Myskina outlasted all of them, plus the Williams sisters and Belgians, to become the first Russian to win one of tennis's four majors.

Though she never reached the top of the rankings, she was ranked No. 2 and seemed a worthy member of the Top 5. She was photographed for GQ magazine on horseback wearing no clothes, thigh-length hair extensions covering what they needed to in a Lady Godiva pose. (She later sued the photographer for selling the excess photos to a Russian magazine.) And after Russia won the Fed Cup for the first time in November 2004 with Myskina playing the major part, she was named official ITF world champion for 2004.

But then in 2005 her form disintegrated. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and she crashed out of the French Open in the first round of her title defense. She had trouble with her longtime coach, Jens Gerlach, and her ranking slid down from No. 3 at the end of 2004 to No. 14 by last Christmas.

RISING IN 2006
This year has seen a steady climb back, and Gerlach is again heading the charge, but with a more clearly defined role. Rounds of 16 at the Australian and French Opens were encouraging, but hardly signs of a player heading back to the Top 5. When Justine Henin-Hardenne beat her 6-1, 6-4 in Paris, Myskina looked like someone who might never get back what she had in mid-2004. She vowed in Paris that if she couldn't regain her elite form this year, she'd call it quits

But on Friday it changed. In a match which could have slipped away, Myskina dominated Kuznetsova, the Russian who has done more than Myskina to come back from a 2005 slump after a 2004 high. While Kuznetsova had the greater firepower and options, Myskina dictated play with a strategy so simple it was almost facile – she hit alternating ground strokes to the Kuznetsova forehand and backhand wings, eventually drawing the error. Only a run of four games from 0-1 in the second set gave Kuznetsova any period of dominance in the 108-minute match.

"It's the best I've played this year, and last year as well," said a bubbling Myskina after the match. "I hit the ball really clean, my serve was a little shaky, but my returns were pretty good."

In the final she plays Henin-Hardenne, who won another all-Belgian battle by taking out Kim Clijsters 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. After a poor start, Clijsters seemed to have mastered her old rival when she broke three times on the run at the end of the second set and start of the third. But just at the time she should have pressed home her advantage, Clijsters played two lame games, and Henin-Hardenne ran away with the deciding set.
If Myskina wants to maintain her newfound confidence, she'll have to at least push Henin-Hardenne in the final.

© TennisReporters .net 2006

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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She will come back into top-10 soon...

She will kick everyone's ass(except Patty and Kim)...

Come on Nastya !
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Cmon Nastya you can do it today, just play your game and don't let her play her game

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Nice article..
Common Nastya!!
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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I'm so happy for her, shes finally starting to play well again...It really is too bad that she has drawn Venus in the fourth round, because I want both to go very far at Wimbledon

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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I happy with Myskina's results. She had such a tough time outside of tennis for the past couple of years. I wish her much success this year!

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:54 PM
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she just won the first set

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 01:57 PM
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nastya great to see you in good form!
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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Anastasia
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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Best of luck Myskina!
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 03:18 PM
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And she did push her. Shame she didn't win but she is back

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Actually, Myskina is almost all the way back to her best form

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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabunny
If Myskina wants to maintain her newfound confidence, she'll have to at least push Henin-Hardenne in the final.
Done and done. I am so pleased that Nasya is showing signs of playing Top 5 tennis again.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenlox
Actually, Myskina is almost all the way back to her best form
i agree! she really played great

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old Jun 24th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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Yes, she did more than just push her.

Also, for the moment she is only lagging behind in the rankings - I believe most Russians would love to have Myskina's career instead of their own. (Not sharapova or Kuznetsova, although the latter is debatable.)

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