Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Svetlana Kuznetsova was forced to pull out of the Sydney International Tuesday after a respiratory problem left her gasping for air.
The Russian had lost the first set of her second-round match with Slovakia's Katarina Srebotnik 6-2 when she called it quits.
The world number four said she picked up an infection playing in Hong Kong last week that had left her with a croaky throat and struggling to breathe.
"It's really bad," she told a news conference. "I cannot do everything well.
"I just need to stop in the middle of the round to breathe, and my nose closes and I hear everything `ding dinging' in my ears. The blood is going up and I can't really focus with everything else."
Kuznetsova, US Open champion in 2004 and runner-up at the French Open last year, said she had considered pulling out of the match before it started but wanted to see how far she could push her body with the Australian Open less than a week away.
"My concern was if I can go on the court today or whether I should pull out before the match," she said.
"I did my best but I wasn't able to push my body to the max.
"I did not play for three days and I felt more or less good, but I just found it so difficult when you cannot breathe."
Kuznetsova said she opted against taking antibiotics to clear the infection and was hoping rest would ensure she makes it to the Open.
"I definitely will play the Australian Open but if I feel a bit like this I will push myself and maybe I will have to retire aga
in," she said.
"I am really motivated to play. If I am the same way as I am today, I won't. But if I get better, I think I should."
World No2 Rafael Nadal also withdrew from the Sydney event with a leg injury in the first set of his opening match, throwing his Australian Open challenge into doubt.
The two-time French Open champion had treatment on his right thigh when trailing Australian Chris Guccione 4-3 and called it quits 5-6 behind on serve.
Nadal had lengthy treatment from a trainer before resuming but decided not to complete the match due to concern over the injury ahead of the season's first Grand Slam, which starts on Monday in Melbourne.
The 20-year-old Spaniard missed last year's Australian Open with a left foot injury but said he hoped to be fit within two days.
"I hope in two more days I will be 100 percent because I want to play the Australian Open, for sure," he said. "It's very important for me, and last year I can't play, and this year I want to play here; it's important, so I will try my best."
Nadal only arrived late Monday from India where he lost to Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in the semifinals in Chennai.
"I have a problem here," he told reporters, pointing to his inner thigh. "I don't know why exactly. I really don't know when." Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan also pulled out of his match with Czech Ivo Minar when trailing 2-6, 0-3, complaining of pain in his right wrist.