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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 09:17 PM   #23
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Kuznetsova a surprise Open champ
BY JAMES BECK
Of The Post and Courier Staff




Young Svetlana Kuznetsova is the one in the half-dozen top Russian women few people expected to win the U.S. Open.

Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, in that order, all appeared to be stronger contenders to give Russia its third Grand Slam women's title of 2004. But after Kuznetsova's 6-3, 7-5 conquest of the talented Dementieva in Saturday night's U.S. Open final, the entire tennis world will take note of the big forehand of this 19-year-old.

Kuznetsova practically blew Dementieva off the court with what may be the strongest forehands in women's tennis. Kuznetsova showed great improvement in her movement over earlier this year when she appeared to be heavier on her feet.

This time, Kuznetsova appeared to have excellent mobility. Hampered by an upper left leg injury, Dementieva seldom was able to hit winners herself or get Kuznetsova off balance to the extent that she would mis-hit her forehand. With three different Grand Slam champions and three more women capable of such success, 2004 was a banner year for the Russians.
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