Anastasia Myskina says she is looking forward to her New Zealand visit. Picture / Reuters
Tennis: From snow in Moscow to summer in the city
Wednesday November 15, 2006
By Terry Maddaford
The Russians keep coming.
World No 16 Anastasia Myskina was last night confirmed as the second player from the WTA's top 20 for January's ASB Classic.
Speaking from her home in Moscow, and shivering as snow plummeted temperatures to -3C, Myskina said she was looking forward to the tournament and the chance to play Auckland for the first time.
"It is a good chance for me to prepare for the Australian Open," said Myskina, 25, who in the past has played little before heading to Melbourne. "I have seen matches from the tournament on television and I'm sure it is a great tournament in a great country. I have heard it is beautiful."
Myskina follows Frenchwoman Mary Pierce as the second Grand Slam winner to play in Auckland. Pierce won at Roland Garros in 2000 - Myskina four years later when she beat her countrywoman Elena Dementieva in the final.
She also follows many of the best Russian players including Nadia Petrova, Elena Likhovtseva and Anna Kournikova to head Downunder.
The Classic promises to be a watershed tournament for Moscow-born Myskina as she hits the tournament trail after being plagued with injuries including a stress fracture in her foot and a troublesome elbow.
"The early part of 2006 was pretty good for me but lately I have had a lot of time off," said Myskina. "But right now my fitness is a lot better."
She joins world No 18 Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) in the draw with Myskina likely to take the top seeding.
Myskina last night played down any suggestion she might play the singles and doubles here.
Despite the injuries she rates 2006 much higher than 2005.
"That was the worst year of my life," Myskina admitted.
"I could not handle it after winning the French Open in 2004. The pressure was immense. Now, as a 25-year-old, I feel I can get back to where I was."
She said being seeded at one or two for the Classic would not bring any added pressure.
Off the court she is looking forward to spending some time boating and quickly took up tournament director Richard Palmer's offer of a helicopter trip as undertaken by Petrova this year.
While happy with the WTA restrictions on who can, or cannot, play here (given the tier-four tournament status) in luring such players as Myskina and Hantuchova, Palmer remains confident of signing a third top-20 player, possibly defending champion Marion Bartoli for the January 1-6 tournament.
"Hopefully, there could be between four and six from the world's top 30," said Palmer.
"We will know that by the end of next week."
Born: July 8, 1981
WTA Tour singles titles: 10
WTA Tour doubles titles: 5
Prizemoney: US$5.87m ($8.88m)