Sharapova says: Age Eligibility Rules may be revised
Loit earns clash with Clijsters
Tuesday, 05 August , 2003, 11:29
California: France's Emilie Loit and Russian youngster Maria Sharapova were among unseeded players to advance early as the 635,000-dollar WTA Tour event got underway on Monday.
Loit defeated South Korea's Cho Yoon Jeong 6-3, 6-2 to earn a second-round clash with top-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters, the world number two who like all the top 16 seeds has a first-round bye.
Sharapova, 16, defeated Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in similarly short order 6-3, 6-1.
"It was a pretty good match, I felt pretty good," said Sharapova, who hadn't played on the WTA Tour since reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.
"I hadn't really played a big match since Wimbledon. It was pretty exciting for me."
"My game was there. I could have played a little bit better, but it was solid."
The number of tournaments Sharapova can enter is limited by tour rules designed to prevent burnout and injury among young players, but the teenager is chafing to play more.
"I definitely think there could be some changes," Sharapova said.
"But a rule is a rule, and you've just got to go with the flow."
"I'd rather play tournaments in the US than going to, for example, Japan and playing some tournaments that I've played before."
She said her family has spoken with WTA Tour chief executive officer Larry Scott about perhaps bending the rule.
"So there have been some discussions," she said. "I hope it will be successful. It'll help my career, definitely."
Three unseeded French players fell at the first hurdle.
Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn survived two set points in the 12th game of the first set en route to a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 victory over Mary Pierce.
After taking the tiebreaker, Tamarine won three straight games to open the second set before Pierce sought treatment for a sore muscle, which caused pain in her back and side.
Pierce then won the next two games to get the set back on serve.
"You know Mary's never going to give up," Tamarine said. "And she really tried after her medical time-out."
The two traded breaks in four of the last five games, Tamarine finally holding at love to take the match.
~Sunflower~ is also known as Sharky
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