The Myskina report: pressure confines Russian
By Matthew Cronin
FROM THE WTA HOME DEPOT CHAMPIONSHIPS –
Russian Anastasia Myskina came into the $3 million WTA Home Depot Championships as the new flavor of the fall season, partially due to her standout play in September and early October and somewhat due to her nude Lady Goodie pose on a horse for GQ.
Locally, she received more attention than any player outside of the top 10, because she works with legendary coach Robert Lansdorp, who is based in the Los Angeles. That earned Myskina a cover shot on the front of the L.A. Times sports section on Monday.
But like so many players do in their first big event under the microscope, she collapsed under the pressure, knocked out by Jelena Dokic 6-3 6-4. Dokic outmuscled Myskina from the ground and the Russian's mix of flat-out offense and cagey defensive via her high loopers never properly blended. Dokic did not have to play brilliantly.
Myskina, who came into the tournament with a career high ranking of No. 12, was devastated.
"It's the worse I've ever played in my life. I was too uptight," said Myskina, who added that she wouldn't pick up a racket again for two weeks. "I'm going to send my rackets straight to Russia and I'm going to go the opposite way."
Funny, but the Tolstoy lover did a better imitation of Anna Karenina on the train tracks that Anna Kournikova did against Anna Smashnova in the Shanghai final. Her second serve was a wreck, she couldn't keep in significant points and backed off the ball in key moments. Myskina has a terrific foundation, is a fine mover and has a good head for the game, but she doesn't have the stomach for big-time tennis just yet.
"She's always gets nervous in big matches," Dokic said. "I played enough to win, but could have played much better, She double faulted a lot and does that when she gets nervous. I played her six times this year and when it's the bigger occasions, she gets nervous.
Myskina agreed that the weight of the Staples Center fell on her shoulders.
"It's hard in your first championships," she said. "When everyone's expecting you to play well and are watching. It's even more pressure than a Grand Slam because you want to show people you're really in the best 16. You want to maybe play higher than you can."