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Old Aug 29th, 2005, 03:12 PM   #61
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Year After Winning Trophy, Kuznetsova Can Feel Its Weight

By LIZ ROBBINS
Published: August 29, 2005
Svetlana Kuznetsova bears only a faint resemblance to the 2004 United States Open champion. She no longer wears braces.

But besides her new smile and her still loquacious nature, Kuznetsova, 20, has found nothing to be easy since winning her first Grand Slam last year. At times, she has made the game even harder than necessary.

"It puts a lot of pressure on me; I expect a lot from myself," Kuznetsova said recently at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. "I have players who want to beat me because I got something in my life which I never had before."

Seeded No. 5, she is in New York to defend her Open title without having won another tournament this year and without having advanced beyond the quarterfinals of the subsequent Grand Slams, losing to Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, to Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open and to Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon.

She was ousted in the second and third rounds in two tournaments in California this summer before the Rogers Cup. In that tournament, as the third-seeded player, she wrenched her back serving in the first set of her third round match against Gisela Dulko of Argentina, then ranked No. 35.

Kuznetsova played through the injury - later diagnosed as a back strain - despite contorting in pain.

She lost, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8), then pulled out of doubles the next day. "I think I should have stopped playing," Kuznetsova said after the match. "But, I don't know, it's something that keeps me there playing. When the match is so close, it's so difficult just to say, 'That's it.'

"I just couldn't take this decision to pull out. I never did it in my life. So this was hard to me."

This perseverance, and her stubborn competitive streak, may come from her family. Her mother was a six-time cycling world champion from St. Petersburg, Russia, and her father has coached cycling champions. Her brother was the 1996 Olympic silver medalist in cycling.

Kuznetsova's grit propelled her to a major victory, but it might also have hindered her. "She's a little bull; reminds me of me," said Martina Navratilova, Kuznetsova's former doubles partner.

"She just needs to calm down," Navratilova said. "I think she's feeling the pressure a little bit. She lost a few matches. I think what was working for her, when it doesn't work, she's a bit stubborn. She needs to sort of go to Plan B. But she's like: 'I'm going to keep hitting it hard. It's going to work.' "

Kuznetsova, with solid legs like those of a cyclist, does not have one decisive weapon in her game yet, and has struggled against the more consistent players. "It's hard when you're on the top and not winning matches," she said. "Now I'm expecting more from myself, and I want to do more and I know I can do it."

The tennis commentator Tracy Austin said she thought that last year's softer Open field smoothed Kuznetsova's path to the final against her countrywoman Elena Dementieva. Kuznetsova defeated Davenport, who was playing with a strained hip flexor, in three sets in the semifinals.

On the draw's other side, Jennifer Capriati eliminated Serena Williams in the quarterfinals amid a flurry of unforced errors by Williams and several questionable line calls. Kim Clijsters was injured, and Henin-Hardenne was feeling the effects of a virus.

"Kuznetsova won the U.S. Open, but I don't think she's ready to win every Grand Slam title," said Austin, a two-time Open champion. "She doesn't have as big a game as a Davenport, she doesn't have as big a game as Serena when she's at her best."

Kuznetsova's breakthrough victory remains a treasured souvenir and a painful reminder. At the club where she trains in Spain, her colleagues compiled a video tribute of her Open triumph for a New Year's party. Kuznetsova was thrilled but embarrassed.

"I'm showing it to people who want me to show it to them," she said. "I watch it a couple of times, and I am getting sick of it."

Kuznetsova will not be able to duck the attention in New York, as much as she would like to stay incognito.

"I just want to stay a little bit longer like this; now I have to go there and defend it," she said. "I know it's going to be hard, even harder than last year. But I did it once. I have nothing to lose. I'm just going to keep playing and see how far it goes."
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 10:10 AM   #62
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SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Svetlana, please.

Q. Good afternoon, Champ. Welcome back to New York. How many times have you been interviewed since you came to New York?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Since when?

Q. How many requests for interviews have you had since you arrived here in New York?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: This year?

Q. Yes.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I was not doing anything, I guess, because I did not know if I had requests. I had one long interview when I came and that's it because I didn't want to do many thing.

Q. Are you feeling a little bit like the forgotten champion?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, I just don't let my mind, you know, into it. I just practice. And I feel relaxed. I do my thing. It doesn't bother me.

Q. How about the (inaudible)?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's good. Very good. I'm very happy with it (inaudible). I'm happy.

Q. As the defending champion, Svetlana, don't you feel that you deserve to be the player playing in the feature match tomorrow?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's very hard to say, no. I guess there is lots of good players to play on the center court here, also. And I think this is a tournament director or tournament decide whoever gets more crowd and what's more important for them to play on the center court. I am playing. I think I will play there also, so I don't mind, whatever.

Q. How would you assess your career right now?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: You know, I think I've been going pretty fast, you know, from back sports to the top sports like through these few years. This year I was not, like, improving so much because I am already in Top 10 and it's much harder, you know, to stay there and to go higher. Last year was a big breakthrough, and this year I couldn't make it so good also. So I am expecting it still to be better.

Q. What's been the problem in your game this year? Why haven't you been able to reach the level that you had here last year?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I don't think ‑‑ I mean, it's difference. Very hard to say something. Last year was very hard. I travel a lot, I had lots of pressure and stuff. This year it's a bit difficult, but my body still may be not ready to do the same job as it did last year. I'm sure I'm going to get this way again.>

Q. Is it mental? Is your confidence down? Is it physical that you don't feel ‑‑
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's different. It's difficult to say because it's ‑‑ I mean, is different things, you know. There is lots of (inaudible) each thing, you know. As I get on top, maybe I can realize what's going on. But I'm just trying to enjoy the way it is now. Of course I want to have better result, but still it's not possible to play on the top of your game all the time.

Q. What are your expectations for this tournament?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, I never thought of it, you know. I just want to go out there and play each match, match by match. So let's see how far I can go, what I can do.

Q. When you go out to train before a Grand Slam, before a big tournament, days before, do you want a very intense workout or a good workout but not maybe as hard as you would play in a match?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I want to have ‑‑ really great to have it intense, but not long so I don't get tired for next match.

Q. Some of the top players have decided to not play many tournaments so they can rest a lot, and I noticed you have played 20 tournaments. You have worked very hard this year. Can you talk about the workload that you are carrying, why you play so much, more than some other players?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think, actually, after last year I think I played less this year. But I just wanted to plan better calendar, you know. I didn't play any Fed Cup matches this year, so it's been a bit easier. But still I played a lot. And this is ‑‑ it depends on your body, you know. Everybody chooses, you know. And I didn't play that much matches this year, you know. I feel when I need matches, I play a bit more of tournaments. But there is players who just play a few and they win all of them or they do good results, so this is enough for them. Everybody's different and everybody has different body and practice, you know. But still I have to work lots of things on my game, my calendar also. Next year we'll plan it even better, you know. This year you get to know yourself, you get to know tournaments, you know how to plan it better.>

Q. Would you like to play less next year?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I would love to if I do better, if I win more matches. So this is depends on the matches because your best shape you get only few matches, practice.>

Q. Even if you play fewer tournaments, when you go deep into the draw, you wind up playing more matches than everybody else anyway, no?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, I play more matches, I win more matches, I play less tournaments; this is pretty clear, yes. So this is what I'm saying, I need to win more matches.>

Q. You could play 13 tournaments and probably play more matches than somebody who's played 30 tournaments?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah.

Q. Is the memory of the win here fresh in your mind, or does it seem like a long time ago?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, to me it seems a bit like, "Wow, it's already been one year," you know. You just realize you do one more round, you know, (inaudible), one more just trip and you have to play the Open again. It's been just pretty quick. And this looks fresh. It looks similar as last year.

Q. What was your first feeling or thoughts when you came back to the Tennis Center here?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I just didn't know ‑‑ just maybe I was not that satisfied, you know, not that happy with the year. I've been not so satisfied as last year. I've been through, you know. It shouldn't bring me maybe less confidence, but coming here, it just change everything. I just forget all tournaments been before, I forget all what's behind me, and just I remember the memories and want to do good in here, want to just play my best tennis and just don't think what happened before it.
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 02:38 PM   #63
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Kuznetsova out, says 'pressure' took heavy toll



By Jerry Magee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

August 30, 2005
NEW YORK – Her joy spilled out of her in three languages, English, Spanish and Russian. Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia had won the U.S. Open and she couldn't stop talking.

That was a year ago. A different Kuznetsova, drained, without purpose, seemingly disspirited, yesterday became the first defending women's champion to lose in the opening round in the 118 years they've been holding women's competitions in this 125-year-old event.



Svetlana Kuznetsova Didn't play her best tennis
On the tournament's ledgers, it is going to be written that Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia was a 6-3, 6-2 winner. In another sense, it was not Bychkova who felled Kuznetsova so much as the pressure that attached to a player who went from obscurity to claiming a major championship at the age of 19.

"The pressure, yeah," Kuznetsova said. "Usually, you put it by yourself, because you think too much about what people say, you think too much about the press, about what they say."

While Kuznetsova, the No. 5 seed, was yielding, most of the ranking women held firm through the Open's two beginning sessions. No. 1 seed Maria Sharapova was challenged in last night's feature by the able Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, yet won 6-1, 6-1.

"The first few games were a little bit tough getting used to the conditions," Sharapova said. "I haven't played a lot of matches. Then after a while you can really go after it. I feel a lot stronger in my arm. I move quite well. I don't think I have moved that well in quite a while."

One and out

Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first woman to win the U.S. Open one year and lose in the first round the next. She also became the fourth woman to do so in any Grand Slam event since the open era began in 1968. The four:

1994 Steffi Graf, Wimbledon

2003 Jennifer Capriati, Aus. Open

2005 Anastasia Myskina, French Open 2005 Kuznetsova, U.S. Open


Both the Williams sisters moved up, Serena with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Yung-Jan Chan of Taipei and Venus with a 6-3, 6-1 conquest of Rika Fujiwara of Japan. Kim Clijsters was not extended in dismissing Martina Muller of Germany 6-1, 6-2.

With her 6-3, 7-5 win against Elena Dementieva of Russia in the 2004 final here, Kuznetsova said it started with people asking her if she could defend her title. "You hear it all year," she said, appearing almost relieved that at last the pressure had been relieved. "No," she contended, "it just happened. I wasn't at my best. This year was not good for me. I take things how I take them."

Her loss left her 27-15 for her season. She has not won a tournament since triumphing at the National Tennis Center last September, and she has been in only one final, in Warsaw, where Justine Henin-Hardenne stopped her in three sets. She also lost to Henin-Hardenne at the French Open in a round-of-16 match in which she held two match points.

Tennis protocol calls for defending champions to be placed in the featured venue in a tournament's first round. They had Kuznetsova playing yesterday in Louie Armstrong Stadium rather than Arthur Ashe Stadium. She didn't complain.

She also didn't cite her back, which has been troubling her, as a source of her problems. But she made 45 errors in failing against the 97th-ranked Bychkova, for whom this was only her ninth match of the season. She had been 3-5 before the Open.

"I mean, now nobody will disturb me about this," Kuznetsova said. "Nobody will say me nothing. I just relax and I take some time off, I guess. And I just prepare for next events. I mean, is tough. But you know, the tough things make you grow stronger and make you learn."



Said Sharapova of Kuznetsova: "I think she has been pretty injured. It's kind of tough coming in as a defending champion. You don't want to pull out. People talk about mental things, but I don't think she was physically ready."
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 03:22 PM   #64
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it's an article about alicia where she's talking about sveta...and they'll play doubles!

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Lonely Molik looks to doubles
August 30, 2005 - 4:24PM

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Alicia Molik says the WTA Tour can be a lonely place and she is happy to have an ally in doubles partner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kuznetsova became the first woman in history to lose in the first round of the US Open as defending champion when she fell 6-3 6-2 to fellow Russian Ekaterina Bychkova.

Molik, the 14th seed, also bowed out with a 6-4 6-4 upset loss to American wildcard Shenay Perry and said she could empathise with Kuznetsova's plight.

"I watched Sveta's game and it's always tough coming back as defending champion. No doubt that was running through her mind," said the Australian No.1.

"I'm sure she'll be upbeat and I'll make every effort to ensure she's positive and enjoying herself in the next couple of weeks because I imagine and I hope we're going to do pretty well in doubles.

"I know she had an injury two weeks ago but I hope she'll make an effort to stay positive, forget about it. It's very easy to say 'there's always next week, there's always another tournament'.

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Advertisement"But sometimes if you let those feelings get to you, if you let them drag you down, if you let them preoccupy your mind, you can almost go mad.

"No-one wins every single week and I think it's a huge learning curve for her. But knowing her, I think she'll bounce back. No doubt. She's got the game."

Kuznetsova partnered Molik to her first grand slam title when they won the women's doubles at this year's Australian Open and the South Australian is grateful to have her on side.

"We're very good friends. The time that I was home for four or five months (with an ear infection this year), Svetlana would be one of the players, one of my friends who would ring every week," Molik said.

"I think it's great to be in a competitive environment and have someone that you could rely on and who you can trust because there's not too many players out there (like that).

"You could probably count a handful of players who you would probably do a couple of favours for and be friends with, want to go to go out to dinner with. There's not many out there.

"It's difficult to get to know players from different countries. Everyone sticks to themselves or does their own thing, and that's the nature of the sport.

"The fact that we're very good friends is great. We both had first-round losses today, we both have a lot in common. We've both got to step out on the doubles court together so I think we'll be going through the same emotions so we can relate in that way."

Molik said she was extra motivated to perform well in the doubles at Flushing Meadows by the prospect of her and Kuznetsova qualifying for the season-ending championships in Los Angeles in November.
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #65
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Alicia Molik says the WTA Tour can be a lonely place and she is happy to have an ally in doubles partner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kuznetsova became the first woman in history to lose in the first round of the US Open as defending champion when she fell 6-3 6-2 to fellow Russian Ekaterina Bychkova.

Molik, the 14th seed, also bowed out with a 6-4 6-4 upset loss to American wildcard Shenay Perry and said she could empathise with Kuznetsova's plight.

"I watched Sveta's game and it's always tough coming back as defending champion. No doubt that was running through her mind," said the Australian No.1.

"I'm sure she'll be upbeat and I'll make every effort to ensure she's positive and enjoying herself in the next couple of weeks because I imagine and I hope we're going to do pretty well in doubles.

"I know she had an injury two weeks ago but I hope she'll make an effort to stay positive, forget about it. It's very easy to say 'there's always next week, there's always another tournament'.

But sometimes if you let those feelings get to you, if you let them drag you down, if you let them preoccupy your mind, you can almost go mad.

"No-one wins every single week and I think it's a huge learning curve for her. But knowing her, I think she'll bounce back. No doubt. She's got the game."

Kuznetsova partnered Molik to her first grand slam title when they won the women's doubles at this year's Australian Open and the South Australian is grateful to have her on side.

"We're very good friends. The time that I was home for four or five months (with an ear infection this year), Svetlana would be one of the players, one of my friends who would ring every week," Molik said.

"I think it's great to be in a competitive environment and have someone that you could rely on and who you can trust because there's not too many players out there (like that).

"You could probably count a handful of players who you would probably do a couple of favours for and be friends with, want to go to go out to dinner with. There's not many out there.

"It's difficult to get to know players from different countries. Everyone sticks to themselves or does their own thing, and that's the nature of the sport.

"The fact that we're very good friends is great. We both had first-round losses today, we both have a lot in common. We've both got to step out on the doubles court together so I think we'll be going through the same emotions so we can relate in that way."

Molik said she was extra motivated to perform well in the doubles at Flushing Meadows by the prospect of her and Kuznetsova qualifying for the season-ending championships in Los Angeles in November.
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 04:07 PM   #66
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lol i was faster this time!
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Old Aug 30th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #67
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Since Kuznetsova won her first and only major championship, she has felt the pressure and the strain of her schedule. Yesterday, she attributed her loss to fatigue and not to her back, which she injured two weeks ago in Toronto.

"I guess I just have been a bit tired last year after everything," she said. "I mean, it's been a tough year - I flew all over the world."

Kuznetsova committed 45 unforced errors in a match that lasted only an hour and five minutes.

"I tried my best, it wasn't my day" Kuznetsova said. "What do I do? Kill myself? No, I don't. Just take positive things out of this and maybe I'll try to learn."



"From this year, January, (people asked), 'what do you think about defending your title?' When you hear it all year, it's like, 'I know I have to defend'," Kuznetsova said.

"Now, nobody will disturb me about this."

Kuznetsova said she needed time off to think about things.

When asked what she wanted to do - rather than was obliged to do - she surprisingly nominated tennis.

"I would still go and play tennis because I love this game, just without everything, you know don't have pressure for a while from the tournaments," she said. "I cannot win every time. Nobody can do this. You can't expect this."
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 04:26 PM   #68
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Svetlana, we hardly knew you


By Greg Garber
ESPN.com


NEW YORK -- Svetlana Kuznetsova seemed to see this one coming.

"Last year was very hard," Kuznetsova said the day before she opened the defense of her 2004 U.S. Open title. "I travel a lot, I had a lot of pressure and stuff.

"Last year was a big breakthrough, and this year I couldn't make it so good also. It's a bit difficult [and] my body still may be not ready to do the same job as it did last year."

On Monday, Kuznetsova did the unthinkable. She lost to Ekaterina Bychkova, the No. 97-ranked player on the WTA Tour, 6-3, 6-2.

"Of course I'm disappointed to lose that match," Kuznetsova said. "But things happen like this. It's happened to many top players, they lose the first round."

Actually, in the 125-year history of the U.S. Open this had never happened. Kuznetsova was the first female defending champion to lose in the first round. Ever. That's a heavy piece of history.

The worst previous ouster of a women's defending champion: In 1967 Maria Bueno lost in the second round to Kristy Pigeon -- and she defaulted with tendinitis in her right arm.

A year ago, Kuznetsova won the championship here at the National Tennis Center. She was only 19, her teeth wired with braces. She ran through a Who's Who list of opponents -- Justine Henin-Hardenne, Lindsay Davenport and Elena Dementieva -- for her first Grand Slam championship. She won the next week in Bali, made the final a week later in Beijing and finished the year as the No. 5-ranked player on the WTA Tour -- quite a leap from No. 36. And then …

… well, as Kuznetsova said, she couldn't make 2005 so good.

"Last year I played lots of tournaments," she said. "That's why I was in great shape and I was doing well. But maybe this year it wasn't the key to play so much. Maybe it was better to plan the calendar. You just cannot keep playing like 32 events a year.

"I know how you feel when you just don't have and gas and you can't go any more."

Kuznetsova hasn't won a single tournament this year and few considered her a threat to repeat here. Her record at the three previous Grand Slams was credible: She lost to Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, to Henin-Hardenne in the fourth round of the French Open and to Davenport in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. But her summer has been dismal.

She has won just two matches in her last four tournaments. At her most recent, the Rogers Cup in Toronto, she wrenched her back in a third-round loss to Gisela Dulko. After Monday's match, she said the condition of her back was not an issue. Too bad, for it might have explained her staggering -- sometimes literally -- 45 unforced errors in a 65-minute match (you can do the math), contrasted by only 15 winners. She was broken no fewer than six times and seemed oddly detached at times.

On the match's final point, she stepped into a two-handed backhand with an expression somewhere between nonchalant and utter defeat. Naturally, it sailed long and Bychkova, like Kuznetsova a 20-year-old Russian, had the biggest win of her career -- in her first Grand Slam main draw singles match. Bychkova's only victory this season came at the ITF tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she took home $2,940 as the top prize. On Monday, she guaranteed herself at least $25,000, even if she loses her second-round match against Ivana Lisjak.

For Kuznetsova, though, it isn't about the money. She won more than $2 million last year and is closing in on $1 million in 2005. No, this is about respect and how she will be judged during her career. Kuznetsova has proved she's a top 10 player -- although her No. 5 ranking will deteriorate precipitously by the end of the year -- but is she a legitimate multi-Grand Slam champion?

The pressure to repeat her first major title was crushing. But, then again, she's only 20 -- the age of a typical college sophomore.

"I think I get more pressure than attention, because every time they asking like, from this year, January, 'What do you think abut defending your title?'" Kuznetsova said. "It takes awhile to play with pressure. Just on the same things where they're coming to you, just stay the same and play the same.

"Of course, any time you have ups and downs, you know. Now, I'm a bit down, so I think is going to be some up in there. I just want to have some time off and just start it again. I really believe I'm going to do well again," she said.
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 05:41 PM   #69
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i hate that...why does everybody all of a sudden pretend that they never heard of svetlana? that's bullshit...every tennis fan knows her and how she looks...just a person who's not interested in tennis would not know her...my non-tennis interested friends don't even know sharapova...so what?
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Old Sep 11th, 2005, 10:19 PM   #70
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she probably just played a bit too much last year and didnt give herself the time to recover, hope she takes a longer rest this year. actually i think the article headline is kind of ironic, defending us open champion makes history losing in the first round of her defense and they dont know her? and it was good to read that she didnt put her opponent (bychova) down.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by Gowza
she probably just played a bit too much last year and didnt give herself the time to recover, hope she takes a longer rest this year. actually i think the article headline is kind of ironic, defending us open champion makes history losing in the first round of her defense and they dont know her? and it was good to read that she didnt put her opponent (bychova) down.
yes,and that is one of the big positive differences with her.she ALWAYS blames herself first,if things do not work out!and she is one of the few,that do not need this whole "glam-thing",shes just a modest girl,who plays exceptional tennis!!and thats why i got so fed up,when some posters tried to discredit her here and being insultingly sarcastic about her 1 round loss!

so,sveti-baby,you know that your fans always stand by you,and wel all know that the good times will come back!!!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 03:41 PM   #72
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Safin, Kuznetsova To Lead Top-Seeded Russia In Hopman Cup

Photo By Susan Mullane By Tennis Week
10/11/2005


A pair of former U.S. Open champions will partner in an effort to power Russia to its first Hopman Cup championship. Reigning Australian Open champion Marat Safin and 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will lead top-seeded Russia in the 18th annual international mixed team exhibition competition. The 2006 Hyundai Hopman Cup will be held at the Burswood Dome in Perth, Australia, December 30-January 6th.


"It's a super team on paper with Safin and Kuznetsova — they're both Grand Slam singles winners, but as we've seen before with Marat, you're not sure what's going to happen," tournament director Paul McNamee said. "If they wobbled any other team could win this tournament, but they should be the favorites on paper."

Continuing recovery from the left knee injury that has limited him to four matches since Wimbledon, Safin will not defend his title at next week's Tennis Masters Series-Madrid. The 2000 U.S. Open champion is targeting the St. Petersburg Open, which begins on October 24th as his return to tournament tennis. Safin captured the St. Petersburg title in 2000 and 2001. Safin, who underwent a procedure to repair a slight tear in the ligament of his left knee on July 11th in Italy, has not played a match since suffering a straight-sets loss to Robby Ginepri in the Cincinnati quarterfinals in August.

In January, Safin did not win a singles match at the 2005 Hopman Cup, but went on to play one of the best matches of his life to beat world No. 1 Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinals before overcoming Lleyton Hewitt and an overwhelmingly pro-Hewitt crowd in the Australian Open final.

Former French Open champion Gaston Gaudio and Gisela Dulko will partner for second-seeded Argentina; Australian Open quarterfinalist Alicia Molik and lethal-serving lefthander Wayne Arthurs will play for third-seeded Australia and serve-and-volleyers Taylor Dent and Lisa Raymond represent the fourth-seeded United States. James Blake, who partnered Serena Williams to lead the U.S. to the 2003 Hopman Cup title before teaming with Lindsay Davenport to successfully defend the title in 2004, is not playing the event this year. The United States has won a record three Hopman Cup titles; Justin Gimelstob and Chanda Rubin paired to win the 1997 Hopman Cup.

Australia is seeking its first Hopman Cup title since 1999 when Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic partnered to claim the Cup.

The Slovak Republic team of Dominik Hrbaty and Daniela Hantuchova, who won the second Hopman Cup title in Slovak history in January, will not be back to defend their title. Four other nations confirmed to compete include: Germany (Nicolas Kiefer and Anna-Lena Groenefeld); Belarus (Max Mirnyi and U.S. Open junior champ Viktoria Azarenka); Serbia and Montenegro (Novak Djokovic and Anna Ivanovic) and either China (Peng Sun and Shuai Peng) or the Netherlands (Peter Wessels and Michaella Krajicek).

On the opening day of play, China meets the Netherlands in a playoff with the winner progressing to the main draw spot. Tournament organizers are offering free admission to kids on opening day.

The Hopman Cup features three Grand Slam singles champions — Safin, Kuznetsova and Gaudio — and four Grand Slam doubles champions — Kuznetsova, Mirnyi, Molik and Raymond — who have combined for 21 Grand Slam championships.

"The men’s field showcases great baseliners in Safin and Gaudio, and features three top serve-volleyers in Dent, Mirnyi and Arthurs," McNamee said. "The women’s side is headlined by Alicia Molik and Svetlana Kuznetsova, but what an array of emerging teenage talent — Ivanovic, Azarenka, Shaui Peng and Krajicek are standout future stars. Throw in a couple of doubles greats like Raymond and Mirnyi and it’s a fascinating mix this year."

Hall of Famer Ken Rosewall will make an appearance as a special tournament guest. For more information on the 2006 Hopman Cup please visit Hopman Cup.com.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 05:11 PM   #73
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– Светлана, вы провели два разных сета. В первой партии у вас не было никаких проблем, а затем вы дали сопернице шанс.
– Если честно, то матч получился очень легким, я не испытывала никаких проблем. В первом сете вообще задавила свою соперницу, она, похоже, не понимала, где находится. Но после 6:0 я немного расслабилась, а Эммануэль забегала. Впрочем, мне удалось взять инициативу в свои руки.

– В Москве все внимание приковано к Марии Шараповой. Но вы ведь тоже теннисистка высокого уровня, вам не обидно?
– Нет, я даже рада, что так происходит. Это теннис - каждый год появляется новое имя. Сегодня один на вершине, завтра другой. Кстати, в такой популярности одной из участниц есть свои плюсы. Меня почти ничего не отвлекает, я больше времени уделяю подготовке.

– Почему этот сезон вы проводите не очень блистательно, особенно по сравнению с прошлым годом?
– Невозможно играть постоянно на одном высоком уровне. Я не потеряла кураж, просто стало меньше получаться в игре. Но не опускаю рук, тренируюсь. Думаю, что в будущем году верну свои позиции. А постоянно выигрывать невозможно.

– Во втором круге турнира вам предстоит сыграть с победительницей пары Вера Звонарева - Мария Кириленко. С кем бы вы предпочли встретиться?
– Я, честно говоря, даже не знала свою сетку в Москве. Веру я хорошо знаю, имею информацию о ее сильных сторонах. А вот как играет Маша, не имею представления.

– Когда приходится выходить на корт против российской спортсменки, чувствуется ли дополнительная мотивация?
– Да, сразу понимаешь, что матч особенный. Мы же следим за выступлениями друг друга. Не так, чтобы отмечать, кто проиграл, а кто выиграл, но по итогам года заглядываем в рейтинг. Мне вообще кажется, что сейчас много сильных спортсменок из России столько потому, что у нас большая конкуренция.

– Вы очень были огорчены тем, что вас не пригласили в сборную?
– У меня очень хорошие отношения с Шамилем Тарпищевым, но в этот раз я не могла помочь девочкам. Хотя страстно болела за них. Во время игры следила за ходом по Интернету, слала смс. У меня со всеми прекрасные отношения и я радостью помогу национальной команде, если меня туда позовут. Хотя в первом круге турнира против Бельгии я не сыграю точно. Матч пройдет в гостях, а с этой страной у меня, как известно, сложные отношения.

– Наверное, в следующем году за сборную будет играть Мария Шарапова. Как вы относитесь к этому?
– Маша - сильный игрок. И если она будет также выступать, то поможет команде. Не вижу в этом никакой проблемы, главное, чтобы Россия победила.

– Сейчас едва ли не каждую неделю в мужской ассоциации выявляют допинг у спортсменов. Значит, есть такая проблема в вашем виде спорта?
– Конечно, есть. Кстати, по поводу мужской ассоциации всегда ходило много слухов, но я старалась не обращать на это внимание. Я же чиста. Знаете, ли, например, что в прошлом году, до скандала в Бельгии, я больше всех в WTA сдавала пробы. И все они давали отрицательный результат, так что бояться нечего. А еще неприятно поразило то, что появилась какая-то нездоровая популярность. Помнится, когда я выиграла Открытый чемпионат США, журналистов было гораздо меньше. А на следующий день после заявления бельгийского министра, я вышла на тренировку и не видела чистого неба. Повсюду были журналисты. Будто бы я Клаудия Шиффер. Очень неприятно было оказаться в центре такого скандала.

– Расскажите о своих увлечениях вне корта?
– Я люблю играть в футбол. Именно играть, а не смотреть. И всегда гоняю мяч с мужчинами, так как с женщинами неинтересно. Люблю кататься на сноуборде, а также сидеть в Интернете.

– У вас новая прическа. Как вы себя с ней чувствуете?
– Прекрасно, она мне очень нравится.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 02:08 PM   #74
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Svetlana learns to deal with pressure
Scott Coghlan

04jan06

RUSSIAN star Svetlana Kuznetsova believes she has emerged a wiser and, most importantly, better player for the lessons learned during a testing 2005.

The 20-year-old started the new year impressively yesterday, overcoming a slow start to thrash American veteran Lisa Raymond in straight sets at the Hopman Cup.



Raymond made a bright start to the match, but Kuznetsova won 11 of the last 13 games to win 6-4 6-1 in 72 minutes.

Unfortunately, she could not stop the US winning the tie 2-1 and edging closer to a berth in Friday's final, with Taylor Dent beating last-minute inclusion Yuri Schukin and the Americans then winning the mixed doubles.

Nonetheless, it was an encouraging singles performance from Kuznetsova, who appeared to have the tennis world at her feet when she won the 2004 US Open as a teenager, beating fellow Russian Elena Dementieva in the final.

Last year didn't pan out as expected however, with the Russian tumbling from a career-high world No.4 late in 2004 to 18th.

The year started most unfortunately, with a drugs allegation that was later proved to be unfounded, and Kuznetsova's form ultimately fell away after a promising start.

Her first three Grand Slam campaigns were ended by some tough opponents, bowing out to Maria Sharapova in three sets in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, and losing to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

She then lost to Lindsay Davenport in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

Kuznetsova's slump came to a head when her US Open title defence failed to progress past the first round, beaten by little known young countrywoman Ekaterina Bychkova.

She won just four of her last 10 singles matches at the end of the season, for an overall 29-17 record, and dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in 15 months.

Kuznetsova also strained her back late in the year, forcing her out of tournaments in New Haven and Luxembourg.

After yesterday's win, the Russian said 2005 had been a steep learning curve as she struggled to cope with the expectations that followed her US Open triumph.

"It has been tough, I have put a lot of pressure on myself," Kuznetsova said.

"Everybody expects a lot from me and I have to learn to cope with the pressure on me.

"Tennis has been improving a lot and you have to stay tough.

"I have had to work on my game a lot and get my shots better.

"To be on the top level for a long time is pretty hard, but when you are young it is hard to understand this."

Kuznetsova suggested that she had felt the effects of a hectic schedule towards the end of last year, pondering whether she played too many tournaments.

"I was a bit tired, I guess."

Kuznetsova's forehand worked well against Raymond yesterday, producing 14 winners.

She also served nine aces to Raymond's one.

In her first match since October, Kuznetsova could not have asked for much more.

"I didn't play much for two months, so I had to practise a lot at home," she said.

"I really enjoyed today's match, I started off a bit nervously and made plenty of mistakes, but then I got my game going and I was pretty happy out there." The win gave the Russians the lead in the tie, but Dent had few problems beating Schukin 6-2 6-0 in under an hour.

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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 02:37 PM   #75
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Kuznetsova looking to make fresh start after horror year
Wed Jan 11, 2006 5:48 AM GMT



By Julian Linden

SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A revitalised Svetlana Kuznetsova believes she is finally in a position to rebuild her career a year on from being wrongfully accused of a doping offence.

The Russian was on top of the world at the end of 2004 having just won the U.S. Open, but it all came crashing down last January when Belgian sports minister Claude Eerdekens identified her as a drug cheat.

The accusations were unfounded and Kuznetsova was cleared of any wrongdoing but the experience shook her. She feared the mud would stick and her game suffered as a result.

Her ranking tumbled from number four to 18th in the world and she failed to win a single tournament all year. She was even knocked out in the first round of her defence of the U.S. Open.

"When you know that you are innocent of something, it's definitely very hard," she told a news conference at the Sydney International on Wednesday.

"Everybody was there watching, thinking that I was guilty.

"Sometimes these things happen... but I couldn't do anything to give it back to this man, so it was disappointing for me."

Kuznetsova's problems did not end there.

She was also struggling to cope with the expectation she had put on herself since winning the U.S. Open then suffered back pain late in the season.

The 20-year-old from St Petersburg admitted she was too immature to cope with the pressure at the time, but added that she had grown stronger through the setbacks and was approaching the new season with a completely fresh outlook.

"I didn't expect to make such a big jump in 2004. I put too much pressure on myself and I didn't know how to deal with everything," she said.

"I learned a lot last year. I had a lot of downs and not many ups but I'm a lot more mature now."

GOOD RESULTS

Kuznetsova spent the off-season training in Spain, away from the media spotlight of her native Russia, preparing herself for 2006.

She said the break helped refuel her passion for the game and the results are already started to come through.

She is unbeaten in six singles matches this year after winning three in the Hopman Cup in Perth then reaching the semi-finals in Sydney with a straight sets victory of Ana Ivanovic on Wednesday.

"I just took my time after the season ended. I practiced for two months and prepared myself to get fit and so far it's working out well," she said.

"I've definitely improved my game but you have to do that because everyone is improving. I've been doing a lot of work but I've got a lot more to do. I'm not even close to my top shape.

"When you spend so much time away from tournaments you really understand how badly you want to play and how much you can enjoy out there.

"This is what I live for at the moment. I don't have anything else. I go crazy when I'm at home because I just love to play tennis, this is what I want to do."
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