Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: in Cloud Cuckoo Land
IRON CURTAIN RAISER - preview of day one
The Russians are coming and Tatiana Panova hopes her campaign has a better ending than last time around.
That time she lost in the final to Anna Pistolesi (nee Smashnova) 6-2 6-2.
But before she entertains hopes of a possible semifinal rematch with Pistolesi she has an intriguing first-round match to consider.
Today she meets comrade Vera Zvonareva on centrecourt, a player Panova knows, but has yet to meet within the white lines.
Preceding this match on centrecourt is a mouth-watering Iron Curtain raiser, as Russian Elena Likhovtseva meets Slovakian Henrieta Nagyova. Adding spice to this encounter, world No 42 Likhovtseva was top seed here in '01, while Nagyova was second seed in '02.
The winner of this clash faces a likely second-round match with Pistolesi. But all eyes today should turn to the all-Russian clash. Tennis is on an all-time high in the country following the Davis Cup team's shock victory over France.
"For the country, it was like Brazil winning the soccer World Cup. it meant everything to Russia," said Panova, who would love nothing better than to continue the winning theme set by her male compatriots.
"I know Auckland, I'm feeling very good, but first of all I have to win my first round," said the No 3 seed and world No 23.
And that might not be as straight forward as she would have liked with Zvonareva widely tipped to break into the top 30 in 2003.
The 18 year old might occupy the last place in the alphabetically ordered WTA guide, but there is no doubt her career is on a fast track forward. She was a WTA finalist in Palermo this year and would love to go one better here.