Set to sweat ... Kirilenko is hot stuff on the WTA Tour. Pic: AP
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Source: The Courier-Mail
Another Maria lines up for fame
By Amy Harris November 29, 2006
RUSSIAN beauty Maria Kirilenko will grace the Gold Coast tennis scene from December 31 when she plays in the Australian Women's Hardcourt championships at Royal Pines.
Kirilenko shot to fame at the Australian Open this year when she donned a Stella McCartney-designed outfit.
The addition of Kirilenko and inuury-plagued American Chanda Rubin has ensured 12 of the world's top 30 players will be on show in the Gold Coast tournament.
"To have Maria in the field just adds another exciting dimension. Not only has she achieved some outstanding results over the last couple of years, but she has been at the forefront of tennis fashion which means she's always exciting to watch," tournament director Liz Smylie said.
"For a 19-year-old, her performances indicate a big future ahead. She will definitely be one of the players to keep your eye on."
A former junior grand slam champion, Kirilenko has been one of the rising stars on the WTA Tour, starting in 2005 when she claimed her first title and rose more than 80 ranking places.
She joins fellow top 30-ranked players Martina Hingis (No.7), Dinara Safina (No.11), Ana Ivanovic (No.14), Sam Stosur (No.29), Anna-Lena Groenefeld (No.19) and Israeli Shahar Peer (No.20) in the Coast draw.
Rubin will kick-start another comeback when she takes to the courts.
A crowd favourite who hit her highest note at the Australian Open in 1996 when she reached the semi-final, Rubin has had injury problems since she underwent surgery on her left knee in 2001.
Since then the Lafayette native has gone under the scalpel three times and withdrawn from six tournaments with ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.
It has been a disappointing spell for the 30-year-old, who has finished a year inside the world top 15 on five occasions and reached three French Open quarter-finals.
Smylie said: "She's been one of the world's top players for a long time and her experience will mean she will be a tough opponent."