Schnyder makes a solid start
SWISS newly wed Patty Schnyder is sure her decision to buck conventional tennis wisdom by travelling without a coach will pay dividends for her in 2004.
Schnyder, who won her first-round match yesterday in the Uncle Tobys Hardcourts at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, is touring Australia relying on her own knowledge of her game and feedback from Rainer Hoffmann, her German businessman husband of a month, and Australian hitting partner Tim Creighton.
Schynder, ranked No. 23 in the world, is one of the free spirits of women's tennis and believes her scalps of two top-10 players, Amelie Mauresmo and Anastasia Myskina, after parting ways with coach Hubert Choudury last April prove she can find her own way back to the top 10 without the coaching expertise upon which the vast majority of players rely.
The 1999 Gold Coast champion says Hoffmann has "a good mind for professional sport" and her marriage to her partner of four years continues a colourful private life, as Hoffmann pleaded guilty in 2002 to a German court for defrauding a company of $1.3 million before starting his relationship with Schnyder.
One of Schnyder's former boyfriends, Rainer Harnecker, created concern among tour officials in 1999 when he convinced her to adopt an unconventional diet, reliant on orange juice, and was also blamed by her parents for turning Schnyder against her family.
"I travel a lot with my husband. We can talk and I have someone who knows me inside out and knows my problems," Schnyder said after opening her eighth Gold Coast campaign in as many years with a classy 6-4, 6-0 win over Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia and Montenegro.
"When I first started travelling without a coach, I didn't know if I could get my backhand or my serve back if it was struggling. It's the first time I've tried this and I feel it's a big help.
"It's much harder to see than feel. If a player can feel it, it's a better way than a coach having to see everything."
In a second-round match tomorrow pitting two Gold Coast champions together, Schnyder will meet defending champion Nathalie Dechy, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Slovenia's Katerina Srebotnik in her first match back from a four-month tournament layoff because of a wrist injury.
West Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua, 18, readily conceded she had been afflicted by nerves in her first WTA Tour match when unforced errors herded her to a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Spain's seventh seed Magui Serna.
Dellacqua said she had been far more nervous than she had been when she lost a three-set match against top-60 player Maja Matevzic at the 2003 Australian Open.
"It's my first WTA event against the highest ranked player I've played (Serna is No. 22). It was really disappointing that the public didn't get to see how I really like to play," said Dellacqua, who will now try to win through the qualifying rounds in Hobart before taking up a second wildcard at the Australian Open. "It will only help my development. Realistically, I think I'm definitely a top 100 player."
Dellacqua possesses a strong forehand and the benefits of a left-handed serve, but was unable to break any of Serna's service games, leaving Gold Coast wildcard Samantha Stosur with the job of providing local success today.
Stosur, aged 19 and the fourth-ranked Australian, will do well to overcome the maturity and consistency of fourth-seeded American Meghann Shaughnessy.
The unseeded Dechy said she did not know what to expect from the wrist injury which required her to put her arm in a splint for two months.
"It's going to be a tough second round match against Patty (Schnyder). Last year we were seeded No. 1 and No. 2," Dechy said.