Myskina chases third Doha title
(AFP) - For Anastasia Myskina theres probably no place on earth like Doha. The pencil-thin Myskina is the only player to win the Qatar Open twice - in 2003 and 2004 - and with the sixth edition of the event beginning on Monday, she appeared a picture of serene confidence after Saturday's draw.
"I am certainly playing better than last year and my goal is to go and give my best shot at every event I play," said the Russian.
Myskina who went on to become the first woman from her country to win a Grand Slam event - the French Open in 2004 - is determined to bury the ghosts of 2005 in which she was dogged by poor form throughout.
That year she only won the title in Kolkata, India and ended the season wondering whether she will be able to recreate the magic of 2004 when she had Russia in a thrall after her path-breaking victory at Roland Garros.
But despite a disappointing start to 2006 Myskina is at peace with herself and her game as she prepares to tackle a decent field at the 600,000 dollar Doha tournament led by Australian Open winner Amelie Mauresmo.
"I feel confident about my game and I am certainly playing better than last year," said the Russian, who flew in from Dubai after being knocked out in the second round by a resurgent Martina Hingis, who has been given a wild card in Doha.
Myskina said she enjoyed the challenge of playing Hingis, who she felt could be in the top 20 soon.
"I though I played a good match against her although I lost in straight sets, but she was the better player on the day. I think its remarkable for a player to be coming back after a gap of three years and playing so well," said Myskina.
"But she is a class player and she can reach the top 20 soon if not the top 10." Myskina, the fourth seed in Doha, has been given a first round bye and will clash with either Japans Ai Sugiyama or Tunisias Selima Sfar in the second round.
Hingis, the inaugural Qatar Open winner in 2005, will face American Mashona Washington in the first round, while Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open winner, will take on Jie Zheng of China.
"I have fond memories of Doha and I hope the public here will support me like they did in 2001," said Hingis, who lost to Maria Sharapova in Dubai.
Sharapova, the 2005 Qatar Open champion, is not playing in Doha. Meanwhile, Indian star Sania Mirza has pulled out of the event because of an elbow injury. Mirza, the first Indian to win on the WTA Tour, had lost to Hingis in Dubai last week.