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Bероника
Aug 13th, 2004, 12:35 PM
Daniilidou aims to be next Greek odds-beater, in tennis


By ERICA BULMAN
The Associated Press
8/13/04 1:05 AM


ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's Eleni Daniilidou hopes she can beat the same kind of odds in tennis that her country's soccer team did at the European Championships: 100 to 1.

Ranked 36th in the world, Daniilidou is the country's lone tennis medal hope. The host nation is counting on the 21-year-old to give Greece its first medal in the sport in over a century.

"My aim is to reach the singles quarterfinals, something I consider to be hard because in this tournament it will be all top players," Daniilidou said ahead of the competition beginning Sunday.

The last Greek to reach the tennis final was Dionysios Kasdaglis -- at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Back then, diplomas were awarded to the champions instead of medals, so technically the first Greek silver medal has yet to be won.

The last Greek player to reach the Olympic quarterfinals was Angeliki Kanellopoulou, 20 years ago in Los Angeles when tennis was a demonstration sport.

However, Greek athletes have recently demonstrated they can overcome even the most incredible odds. The nation recorded one of the biggest upsets in soccer history in June when its team won the Euro 2004.

Daniilidou will similarly need to vanquish some of the greatest names in women's tennis to give her nation a second surprise title this summer.

On the way to the semifinals, the Greek will have to fight through a tough field that includes the likes of top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, on-form world No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo of France and defending champion Venus Williams.

"It's normal that Greek people expect a lot from Eleni as she's considered a world-class player," said her coach, Judith Sprenger. "Especially now that she's playing at home, in such a big event, expectations are even higher. But she is playing well at the moment and is optimistic."

Daniilidou faces Hungary's Aniko Kapros in the opening round.

And she has been given another chance at a medal, receiving a wild card for the women's doubles event with Christina Zachariadou.

Daniilidou, the best player that Greece has ever produced, hit No. 14 in the WTA rankings last year. The serve-and-volleyer won her third WTA title in Auckland, New Zealand, this year.

"She played good tennis this year, but she was often unlucky with the draw," said Sprenger. "In early rounds, she had to compete against top players like Serena Williams and Amelie Mauresmo."

Since 2001, Daniilidou has steadily climbed the echelons of women's tennis. Ranked only 142nd in June 2001, within a year, she vaulted into 32nd position.

A native of Chania on the island of Crete, Daniilidou became the first woman to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2002 and cracked the top 20 by January 2003. A month later, she settled into 16th place.

After witnessing her triumph at the ASB Classic in Auckland in 2003, Australian doubles champion Todd Woodbridge asked her to play doubles with him at the following Open in Melbourne. The pair went all the way to the final.

In singles play at the same event, Daniilidou reached the fourth round before succumbing to Serena Williams, giving Greece its best-ever finish at the tournament.

In addition to Daniilidou's doubles wild-card entry, Greece received two others -- one for Konstantinos Economidis in men's singles and for Vasilis Mazarkis and Economidis in men's doubles.

galadriel
Aug 13th, 2004, 12:38 PM
Thank you Vero :kiss:

GO ELENI !!!!!!

GoldenSlam
Aug 26th, 2004, 05:04 AM
Didnt do it....but still, great weeks in Athens so far:).

elinas
Sep 4th, 2004, 10:27 PM
Costa Katse Kapou Na Milisoume.