Anna can still play: Just ask Tammy
Published on Nov 10, 2003
[TENNIS] Russian glamour girl Anna Kournikova confirmed she would be back on the tour next season after she proved she still has on-court talent and upset Tamarine Tanasugarn 2-6 6-4 10-6 in an 58-minute exhibition match in front of 4,000 fans in Pattaya yesterday.
The 22-year-old Kournikova, who was ranked as high as No 8 in the world in 2000, has been out of action since May after suffering a nagging back injury which was expected to jeopardise her tennis career.
“This injury is chronic. I’m glad I still played well, although I haven’t played in a match for so long. The back is OK today, but tomorrow it’s going to be some sore because there were some long rallies,’’ said Kournikova, who denied rumours she was about to retire. Speculation about her retirement increased recently after her injury with many saying she is more interested in being a celebrity than a tennis player.
“I wasn’t saying I was going to retire. I said I was just trying to do some shows and people made it the headline. I think there are many professional [actresses] already.
“Now everything else is secondary for me as I still want to play tennis. I will try to do everything medically to get back within the first quarter of next year. Now I have to wait for the condition to get better, which is very frustrating,’’ she said.
Kournikova is considering an operation, but prefers other options, She has already had surgery on her foot. She hopes to be back on court for the Australian Open.
She will leave Bangkok for India this morning and refused to reveal her mission there, only saying: “ It will be a surprise.”
She will next play an exhibition match with South African Amanda Coetzer in Portland later this month.
Her four days in Thailand was a great experience, she said.
“People here are great. The food here is good. It’s quite hot but I like it. I would love to come back here and stay longer,” she said.
Tamarine and Anna have known each other since their junior years. The Thai beat the Russian in the 1995 junior Wimbledon semi-final, but when they joined the pro tour, the European returned the favour to win the first round of the 1999 French Open with a 6-3 6-3 victory.
When they resumed their rivalry yesterday Tamarine started poorly, dropping the first service game to fall behind Kournikova 0-2, but woke up to reel off six games in a row to win the first set 6-2. The Russian managed an early break in the second set to lead 2-0, which was enough to send her through to win the set 6-4 and level the match at 1-1.
In the final set, which was competed in the super tie-break format, Kournikova played superbly to build a strong 8-2 lead. The Thai rallied back to 6-9, but the former top 10 player was too good in her baseline game as she employed a sharp cross-court shot to end the show at 10-8.
The Nation, Pattaya