Young Russians creating a stir in LA
Young Russians creating a stir in LA
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - While many teenagers are spending their summer vacations at the beach, Viktoriya Kutuzova is making a splash without ever going near the water.
Kutuzova made a successful WTA Tour debut Tuesday as the lethal-hitting 14-year-old Ukrainian upset listless Russian Lina Krasnoroutskaya, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round of the $635,000 JP Morgan Chase Open.
"I'm very happy, this is my first time, my first tournament, my first match, and she's a real good player," said Kutuzova, who turns 15 on August 19. "I was real nervous before the match. I was like, 'You must play good, you must play good.'"
Under the circuit's age rule designed to protect young players from burnout, Kutuzova was allowed to enter one WTA event as a wild card. The runner-up at this year's Junior Australian Open, she responded with an impressive effort, although the butterflies persisted throughout the match, which lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes.
"I wasn't scared, just nervous, nervous, but I can play with it," said Kutuzova, who committed six double faults. "It was excited energy. I want to play, I want to kill everybody before the match starts."
Although her support group, including father and coach Valeriy, believed she could win, Kutuzova had doubts.
"I was talking with a lot of people, but I didn't believe it," admitted Kutuzova, who started the week with her first-ever WTA ranking at 451st. "I'm going to show my best tennis and see what happens.
"For sure, I was dreaming about this win. I couldn't sleep yesterday."
Kutuzova hammered relentlessly from the baseline against Krasnoroutskaya, who committed 12 double faults and dropped serve four times.
"I didn't have any energy to move," Krasnoroutskaya said. "I've been feeling like this for a while today, but I think I'll be OK for doubles on Thursday."
Despite the milestone win, Kutuzova, who trains at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida, knows she can shift her game into a higher gear.
"This is not all that I can show, it's not my best tennis," she said. "I can play more better. I will show my best tennis tomorrow."
Kutuzova will play hard-serving American Alexandra Stevenson on Wednesday in the second round.
"I think the match will be easy," she said. "I know she has a good serve, but I'm going to do my best. I'm not saying that I am going to win, but we'll see."
Another youngster, 16-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova continued to make waves, outlasting countrywoman Nadia Petrova, the 14th seed, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, to move into the third round.
"I started off with a bang but when I faltered it didn't matter," said Sharapova, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in her debut last month. "It's how I finished."
Third seed Chanda Rubin of the United States will be unable to defend her title after withdrawing with right shoulder tendinitis. She received a first-round bye as one of the 16 seeds, but developed pain in her shoulder while practicing Tuesday.
"I was advised by the doctor not to play to prevent further injury and avoid surgery," said Rubin, the world's No. 8 ranked player. "I was ready to play, but unfortunately, I have to take some time to recover." Angelique Widjaja of Indonesia will take Rubin's place in the second round against Italian Rita Grande.
In a second-round match, fourth seed Ai Sugiyama of Japan struggled past countrywoman and wild card, Saori Obata, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
"It was tough to get into the match, I didn't start well," said Sugiyama, who received a first-round bye. "I really wanted to win, but I started choking a little bit towards the end. I was tired. But it was nice to close it out."
Sugiyama was joined in the third round by seventh seed Conchita Martinez of Spain, who ran off the final six games in a 6-4, 6-3 win over American Tara Snyder.
"I think I played very poorly in the beginning of the second set to go down 0-3," said Martinez, who won this tournament in 1995. "Obviously, it was very important to get back."
Sixth seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria dispatched Russian Elena Likhovtseva, 6-3, 6-3, and No. 11 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy overcame Japan's Shinobu Asagoe, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
In first-round action, Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain defeated Cara Black of Zimbabwe, 7-5, 6-3; Austrian Barbara Schett eliminated 1994 champion Amy Frazier of the United States, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Australian qualifier Nicole Pratt topped Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4; and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova eliminated Spain's Magui Serna, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
First prize is $97,000.