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Old Jan 14th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #76
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2006 MEDIBANK INTERNATIONAL
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

January 11, 2006

S. KUZNETSOVA/A. Ivanovic
7-6, 6-3

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Svetlana, please.

Q. You had a sort of disappointing year last year after winning the US Open the previous year. How is your game coming together this season?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Uhm, you know, sometimes when you don't expect this jump, you know, big jump, I didn't expect it 2004, so it been too much for me. I put too much pressure on myself and I didn't know how to deal with everything, you know. I have not been so much mature. To hold it in last year, I had to learn a lot. I had lots of downs and not much ups. So I just took my time after the season ended. I practice for two month, get prepared myself to be fit and to play again my tennis and my game, and so far it's been working out well for me and I'm pretty happy with my performance.

Q. Was it just a mental thing, or had you done some physical changes or technical changes to your game this year?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, definitely I improve my game. I mean, the game is growing every day. You know, everybody improving each day because everybody practicing, so you need to improve also. I had to work a lot outside and inside of the court. I'm still working, I still have lots of work to do, you know. I'm not even close to my top shape, you know. Yeah, I worked everywhere.

Q. Last year when you came to Australia, you got caught up in that doping thing with the Belgian thing. Did that have an effect on you last year? It obviously upset you, but is that a thing that sort of contributed to the pressure on you?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think this moment I was strong enough, you know. When you know that you are innocent in something, you're not getting -- I mean, it definitely was hard, you know. It's hard to come on the court and one day you have three people watching you practicing, another day you don't see a space where there is someone not standing. Everybody was there watching, thinking that I was guilty or thinking whatever. I appreciate the support of all my friends who was next to me and who was sure that I was innocent. I mean, sometimes happens with the players, this stuff. I couldn't do anything to give it back to this man who did it, you know, so it was disappointing for me. But it was one of the things what happened. It started the year like this, and then I had so many more disappointing things like injuries, like problems out of the court and stuff. I mean, I had lots of stuff. But I don't want to even talk about it or think, but I had lots of stuff to go through and I went through it. Now I'm happy. I'm looking forward to play tennis and enjoy the game.

Q. The Australian Open being a hard court, I mean, do you see that as a tournament that should suit your style of game?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, sure, I think I can adjust my game to every surface. I'm very happy and excited about it. I'm not any more playing, you know, just to get results and stuff. Of course it's goals, results, but I'm enjoying the game because it's the game. You not just gonna hit hard and see; I want to come to the net, I want to slice, I want to change the game so it's be interesting for people to watch and enjoying for me to play, you know, and tough to opponents. So, yeah, definitely I think my game suits the Australian Open because I won the US Open and, I mean, it's similar. It's not grass and hard or clay and hard. It's both hard courts. And I think I'm fit enough to stay in this weather so...

Q. The Australian Open is the only major that a Russian woman hasn't won yet. Is there any reason for that? Is it the heat, is it the time of year, or is it just bad luck?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I guess it's gonna come one day, I mean, because Russian players still improving, you know. We gonna dominate in 2004; 2005 not so much. I mean, I think it's just mention of time maybe, or maybe never win; I don't know. You know, any Grand Slam like Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open, you guys say like Russian woman won, but we are all different. What makes us same just is we have same flag and we fight for our flag. You know, maybe like, I don't know. I definitely think it's gonna happen. But, I mean, you never know. But, I mean, we have chances to make it there also.

Q. What are your expectations for the Australian Open next week?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's going to be the interesting week. I think it's much stronger field than last year because everybody's back and everybody playing very well. Justine showed against Hingis that she's in good shape. Williams sisters is back. Clijsters. Everybody. I mean, Davenport, Amelie. So many players, and toughest ones. So the strongest one gonna win, so I think it's gonna be very interesting event.

Q. Is there one that stands out more than others to beat?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Excuse me?

Q. Is there someone among all those who is the one to beat?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think for the moment is Kim is in the best shape, because she's playing pretty well. But, I mean, you know how it's tennis, you never know what's going to happen. So I think it's just gonna be very good event to watch.

Q. How much have you been doing before Australia until now to prepare yourself?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I had some days off after last year. You know, lots of people been saying I have to take lots of time off, you know, to rest my mind. I didn't think so. I couldn't stay out of working, you know. I just have so much energy, and I understood after four days that I have to do something. So I get out in the court of fitness and I been working hard, I been making sure I can perform with my fitness and with my game for this year, you know. Of course in the end I been working so much so was a little boring, enough working, and I was looking so much forward to play at tournaments, to play game, to win matches again, you know. You really understand -- so much time away from the tournaments, you really understand how bad you want to play and how much you can enjoy out there. This is like your life. This is what I live for for the moment. I don't have nothing else. I been going crazy at my house, like, "What I gonna do?" You know, to learn something is not what I want. It's not what I love to do. I just love to play tennis, and I love to be out there to compete against best players. So this is what I'm working for.

Q. Do you think it's important for you to start well this year in Australia?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, for sure. For sure it's very important because like this I get confident, I get some points, and I have a good seed in the next tournaments and I'm really looking forward to play good game and win some matches.

Q. Where do you spend your time off? Do you go to Russia?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I didn't go to Russia. I took time and I just spent in Spain because it's the best place for me to prepare with tennis. If maybe I want to have time off, I have to go somewhere else. But for work, I have to stay in Spain. I really understand that because I have best possibilities for me - best courts, climate. I have place to stayy there and very comfortable. If I want to have time to rest, I have time to stay away. Maybe I go somewhere else, but neither to Russia. Because I love Russia, to be there, but after this it's very hard for me because it's too much press. Like this, I feel like 300 in WTA because nobody knows me, I'm just alone, you know. Because in Russia it's a bit crazy.

Q. What was the key in the match against Ana today?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: The key was fighting, run every ball, because I been down 5-4 and 40-Love and she been serving. She's very good player. I played her last week. I think I getting to know better her game. I think here it was much harder to beat her because with the wind, because it suits her game much more than mine because she plays flat. This surface for me, who hit stronger it's easier to play. So, I mean, Ana plays much more flat than I do, so for her it's a bit -- it suits her game more than mine. But the key was serving well and just trying to attack, not to go back.

End of FastScripts….

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Old Jan 14th, 2006, 08:37 AM   #77
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2006 MEDIBANK INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEWS: Svetlana Kuznetsova

/noticias.info/ 2006 MEDIBANK INTERNATIONAL
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

J. HENIN-HARDENNE/S. Kuznetsova
6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. The first set you were sticking with her, then you sort of fell apart in the second set. What happened?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think just I give all credit definitely for Justine today. I think she played very good game and she change her game more than like different than she played before. She played so much inside and she didn't give me much time. I mean, I was not so fresh like in the first matches, you know. Like the heat gets to you in the end of the tournament. I think it's give her bit more credit that she didn't play yesterday and I had two matches. I didn't serve well and, I mean, she put a lot of pressure on my first and second serve. She was attacking, you know. I lose some moments in the first set, and in the second set she just had too much confidence. And, I mean, I was not doing much already. But I think all important moments were in the first set.

Q. You won six singles matches before today. How do you think your game is going into the Australian Open?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: You know, you can see it different ways. You can be down losing to Justine today, but I'm definitely not going to take it this way. I'm maybe a bit down, a bit tired because I had plenty of matches in these two weeks. I just want to rest couple days, you know, train in Australian Open in Melbourne, and just looking forward to play this event. I'm feel pretty good, and I'm not going to play so many matches in a row there, you know. I gonna have day off, day play matches. So I gonna feel fresh. Feeling good, you know. I won matches when I had to win. Today was tough match, and hopefully I play better next time.

Q. What do you tell yourself? You were making some very good shots yourself. With her accuracy and consistency, what do you tell yourself? How do you get around that?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, it's not only because of -- I mean, she been playing very well, but this is also dependent on me because I let her play, you know. Because I didn't serve so well. I don't know if I -- I don't know the percentage of first serve, but I guess is very low, mine today. During all tournament I serve much better and I put lots of serves. So making first serve, I had to work so much less on my serve and I could attack service in opponent. But today, I mean, I had to work on my serve, I have to run on her serve and, you know, I had to do too much job and she was playing very well. You know, it's both things. I just was hanging out there and, I mean, in second set she just had too much confidence. I give too much games to her, you know. She been playing pretty -- not under pressure.

Q. It's only her third match back since October, since Filderstadt. Are you a little bit surprised how well she's seeing the ball?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, you know, she's professional. She won so many -- she won even couple Grand Slams, you know. I mean, she's so good player. All the time she was out for long, she coming back and she was playing pretty strong. So, I mean, this is Justine, and she's a good player.

Q. You said the other day you thought Kim Clijsters looked to be in better shape than anyone else. Justine has slipped under the radar a little bit with all the talk about Sharapova and everyone else. How would you say Justine's going? Is she a contender this year?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I said Kim because, I mean, Kim was winning all the matches. It's look to me like this. Today in the morning they said she withdraw from the tournament. I still don't know the reason, you know. I mean, every year, if you look Sydney, all the time players withdraw from here, you know, and doesn't look that good. It's looks like players just saving for the Grand Slam maybe; I don't know. And Justine, I mean, she plays here all matches. She plays very good. Looks like she been working very well. And she needs these matches to play here to get ready to Grand Slam because she didn't have many matches last year. I mean, it's gonna be tough season. I not said -- I didn't said only Kim, you know, I said couple names. I said Justine, Davenport, Mauresmo. Everybody's there now so it's going to be very tough, and I think Justine is playing also very well now.

Q. Do you think the withdrawals here do much for women's tennis? How does that affect the image of women's tennis? Like you said, it's disappointing.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, for me is disappointing because, I mean, you want to play every time all matches, you know. And sometimes players go through without playing matches and you have to work. It's better for me if I have to play matches, you know. But other players, I guess -- I don't know. But it's not only this happens every year in Sydney, you know, doesn't happen in different tournaments. I don't think is good image for WTA but, I mean, I guess we have to -- they have to do something about it.

Q. So from your experience, this tournament seems to have the highest number of withdrawals?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I don't know about last year. I heard last year was similar like this withdrawal. Maybe because like Lindsay had stomach problems. I mean, maybe just, you know, like lucky, unlucky, you know, time. Maybe because of this. I think it's also because it's first event of the year. Everybody coming, you know, from preseason. Everybody maybe been to Europe where it's cold and coming here, it's so hot in Australia. For me it's also very hard. You get injuries, you know, like ankles and stuff, you know. It's also usual. It's not only about players saving them, you know, but it's all coming up together. It's a very difficult week. It's looks to me like this.

Q. With the heat in Melbourne, will you play doubles as well as singles in Melbourne?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, in Melbourne you have two weeks, you know, to play. You have day off, day play. Maybe you have two matches a day and then you have day off. It's much different.

Q. Do you know who your partner will be?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I spoke to Amelie to play there also so, yeah.

Q. Will you come back to Sydney next year given that there is a chance players will withdraw?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, I mean, this is always going to happen. It's not about Sydney pulling out. I'm not saying in Sydney all players pulling out. I'm not saying that. It just, I mean, just unlucky maybe last year and this year. I mean, I will decide on my calendar not depending -- not thinking about withdrawals. Not at all. I'm just gonna depend on my weeks.

Q. How good is Justine's backhand?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Better than forehand (smiling).

Q. Is it the best in women's tennis?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's very hard to say, you know. But in women's tennis, usually the backhand is better than forehand, you know. I think it's better, Justine's backhand than forehand. But you never know, you know. She makes lots of winners from both sides. It's good. I mean, she can mix it up. She can hit with lot of spin. She can go slice. She can go down the line. So she has so many things, you know. She can change it all the time.

Q. Are you conscious of keeping away from her backhand when you play her?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, no, no, not at all. I mean, you cannot go only forehand. It's not like junior tennis when you see somebody and not hitting like good forehand, you just go this way. No, no (smiling). You just change direction. I think the main thing in tennis is to make opponents move, you know. Of course you try to play a little bit more to one side, yeah.

End of FastScripts….
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Old Jan 17th, 2006, 01:49 PM   #78
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Tennis chief expects Kuznetsova to challenge in Australia


13:08|16/ 01/ 2006




MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti, Sergei Kuznetsov) - Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova is the best placed of the Russian women to stage a challenge at this year's Australian Open, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation said Monday.

"Svetlana Kuznetsova looks the best of all Russian women players," Shamil Tarpishchev said, as Kuznetsova comfortably defeated Australian Lauren Breadmore on the first day of the tournament Monday at Melbourne Park.

A possible meeting in the fourth round with American world number one Lindsay Davenport could be the key to the tournament for Kuznetsova, ranked 11 in the world but seeded 14.

Kuznetsova had a good chance of victory in that match, Tarpishchev said. "Davenport does not like playing against players like Kuznetsova," he said. "Svetlana is an awkward opponent for her."

Kuznetsova won the US Open title in 2004, but has otherwise yet to go beyond the quarter final of a grand slam singles event.

A total of 11 Russian woman began the tournament, but the country lost Elena Dementieva, seeded 9, on the opening day in a surprise straight-sets defeat to Germany's Julia Schruff. Top Russian seed Maria Sharapova, seeded 4, had little trouble moving into the second round with a straightforward victory over Germany's Sandra Kloesel.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 04:37 PM   #79
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. DAVENPORT/S. Kuznetsova

6‑2, 6‑4

Q. Where do you feel you came up short today?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: First of all, I think the roof was been closed was much better for Lindsay than for me because I prefer to play with the roof open and not indoor court. This made the ball bounce much slower and the court much faster. Yeah, it was much more comfortable for Lindsay.

Then in second set, Lindsay played very well. She served very good. I didn't serve that well during all the match. This was the main thing, I think, for me. Because, I mean, playing a player like Lindsay, I mean, she's good serve and plays very flat. And you have to use all chances you have.

She was up 3‑Love, and I came back for 4‑3. Had overhead, which I missed. Then I didn't have much more chances to play.

I know in the end she was not moving so well. But, I mean, she plays so much like flat, and the ball didn't bounce, the (indiscernible) was so high. So I couldn't do much about.

And I don't feel that I get to my good shape to play top player, you know. I'm getting there, you know. Today I understood what I have to work on, and have just to get back to training court and work about it. But hopefully in couple matches with top players, I'll get my level and can compete against them in the top level.

Q. You mentioned the roof. Would you prefer to play with the roof open, despite the heat? Was it just bad luck they had to close it?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, it would better ‑‑ it would be better for me to play with closed (sic) roof, definitely, because I think I can handle more heat.

Q. Coming from the Russian winter, what gives you the confidence to cope with the heat?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, it's not about this. It's about the hours that you practice, I guess, and about how fit you are. I know I've been practicing cold weather, but I've played Perth, I've played Sydney in very hot weather, so I feel very comfortable. I've always played in my life better outside courts than inside courts.

But, I mean, all credit to Lindsay, she played good.

Q. Do you feel you can again put yourself in a position to challenge for a Grand Slam, and what do you need to do to get back there?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I changed my serve in December, in November/December when I did my pre‑season. It still takes time, you know, to get confident. I'm serving good in matches which I have to win. Matches against top players is still a bit shaky, you know, and not so confident on my serve.

I think I need to practice this more. Just also time, because I cannot play defending tennis against Lindsay. I have to move her around, I have to just play my game. Still I couldn't get the rhythm that much today because it's tough. Lindsay serve good, play very flat. Yeah, this is what I think.

Q. Lots more hot weather forecast next week. If more and more of the tournament is played indoors, do you think it favors Lindsay's chances for perhaps winning a title here?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think so, yeah. I think for Lindsay is better to play indoor because she plays fast tennis. What she doesn't like much I guess is to play in the hot weather and when the ball bounce lower and higher. Faster for her is better.

But last year she did final here with open roof. So, I mean, she still could play this. I mean, she's No. 1, you know. She's playing very well. But is better for her to play indoor and grass court, the fast surfaces.

Q. When you talk about the ball keeping lower, the courts playing faster, how big a difference is it? Is it like night and day in terms of the difference?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's just faster. It depends opponent who you play. I mean, when you play against Lindsay on outside court, is pretty fast, I think. I played her US Open, I played her Wimbledon. But I have much more chances to play her US Open than playing Wimbledon because her speed and her ball is pretty flat and doesn't bounce high. If it's bounce high is better for me because I can move her around, I can play more forehand, more my game.

Q. The speed today, did you feel it was as fast as when you played Lindsay in New York?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No. Much faster.

Q. Faster today?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, for sure.

Q. Than in New York?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, because the roof was closed and the ball was bouncing lower.

Q. Very dramatic difference?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, I cannot measure the difference, you know. Just different for me. I have much more time on other surfaces.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 10:10 AM   #80
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 03:13 PM   #81
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Kuznetsova begins climb back

11jan06


FORGOTTEN champion Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her down under demolition to book herself a Sydney International semi-final berth today.

But in a dramatic day at Olympic Park, Kuznetsova was the only one to do so via the scoreboard with the other three women's quarter finals decided by injury or illness.



Tournament top seed Kim Clijsters was the biggest name to pull out, suffering acute muscle pain in her hip during warm up ahead of a quarter final clash with seventh seed Francesca Schiavone tonight leaving her Australian Open dreams in tatters.

Fifth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne joined Kuznetsova in the last four of the Australian Open lead-up event without even picking up a racquet after Russian fourth seed Nadia Petrova withdrew from the tournament with a groin strain.

And eighth-seeded Czech Nicole Vaidisova then progressed to the semi-finals when Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova retired from their match with gastrointestinal illness while trailing 6-3 3-1.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion, landed in Australia under a drugs controversy last year and, after a tumultuous 2005, has started afresh in 2006 with an undefeated run through the Hopman Cup in Perth last week and now ominous form in Sydney.

The sixth seed today faced challenging Serbian Ana Ivanovic, who yesterday knocked out world No.3 Amelie Mauresmo, but blasted the teenager off the court with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win.

Kuznetsova's form tailed off in 2005, culminating in becoming the US Open's first defending champion to lose in the first round. The disappointment prompted the former world No.4 to take an early off-season break to overcome a back strain.

Sydney is her first WTA tournament since the break and the world No.14 is hungry for success.

"I still have lots of work to do. I'm not even close to my top shape," Kuznetsova warned after the 84-minute match.

"So much time away from the tournaments, you really understand how bad you want to play and how much you can enjoy being out there. This is like your life. This is what I live for, for the moment. I don't have nothing else."

Kuznetsova's next assignment, against Belgium's former world No.1 Henin-Hardenne, will give a true indication of where she stands in the world pecking order.

It is another Belgian, world No.2 Kim Clijsters, that the Russian tips as the one to beat for Australian Open glory.

"It's a stronger field than last year because everybody's back and everybody playing well," Kuznetsova said.

"The strongest one is going to win. I think for the moment Kim (Clijsters) is in the best shape because she's playing pretty well. It's tennis, you never know what's going to happen. "My game suits the Australian Open because I won the US Open and it's similar. And I think I am fit enough to stay in this weather."

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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:20 AM   #82
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Kuznetsova overcomes slow start to win
By Edwin Ashie-Nikoi

22 February 2006






DUBAI — Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia recovered from a slow start to overcome spirited Martina Muller Germany 6-2, 6-0 in the $1 million DDF Women’s Open which entered its second day here yesterday.

Though Muller, a qualifier, lost, she gave a good account of herself in the first set as Kuznetsova struggled to find her rhythm. The German put her opponent under early pressure through her double-fisted backhand drives but her forehand volleys let her down.

After Kuznetsova had battled her way to level 30-30, Muller took the next point and appeared she was on her to take the first game. But the Russian came back to force deuce and went on to win the game.

Muller, however, did not let opportunities in the second game slip by this time as she breezed into a 30-15 and kept the same pace to level 1-1. Kuznetsova, ranked 15th in the world and second round loser here to Sania Mirza of India last year, showed a lot of improvement in her game in the third. Backed by a series of fine serves, she took control of the proceedings to take the game for a 2-1 lead. Muller showed plenty of fight-back in the fourth but she was broken for the second time to trail 1-3.

Kuznetsova started to attack the net more in the fifth game sending her opponent around the court on a couple of occasions. The Russian took a 40-15 lead and completed the game with her second ace for a comfortable 4-1 lead.

Muller, ranked 102 in the world, came back strongly in the sixth as she in turn kept the Russian busy with some brilliant forehand shots. She made Kuznetsova run around the court to retrieve some difficult shots. Muller took a 40-30 lead but Kuznetsova fought back to force deuce. The Russian though, was not to be denied as she took the game to cut down the scores 4-2.

The Russian then held her serve in the seventh and broke Muller in the next to take the set 6-2. The second was relatively easy for the Russian as she dominated to take it 6-0 and the match.

Kuznetsova said afterwards: “I struggled in the early stages of the game as it took me time to get into the match. I could not hit in the right position. But when I got into my rhythm, I did not look back.”

The Russian is hoping she could one day win the championship. “There are many Russians here and that motivates me more. It is a nice atmosphere here and the crowds are good. I wish I could win it one day.”

She, however, admitted the tournament was getting harder every year. But I enjoy playing against good players here. I know I can play well but I have to work harder to win here. It is a matter of time,” she added.

Meanwhile, veteran Martina Navratilova of the US and her South African partner Liezel Huber, went down 1-6, 5-7 in the doubles on court one. The match was witnessed by a large crowd which indicated the American’s popularity. There were even youngsters seeking her autograph after the match. Navratilova and her partner, who easily went down in the first set, gave a good fight in the second.

With Huber’s left leg heavily strapped, Navratilova single-handedly led most of the attack. The pair came back from 3-4 down in the second as they broke serve and held their own to lead 5-4. But their younger opponents, Jelena/Li, fought back as they saved two set points to level 5-5 and held serve to take a 6-5 lead before scraping to take the set 7-5 and the match.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:36 PM   #83
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Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia obliges fans with her autograph after her victory against German Martina Muller in the first round of the Dubai Open on Tuesday. Karl Jeffs/Gulf News

I'm improving each day: Kuznetsova

By Alaric Gomes, Staff Reporter


Dubai: Former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is happy that she has matured as a player.

"I have been discovering so many things about myself," Kuznetsova said after blasting past German Martina Muller 6-2, 6-0 in under one hour in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open here on Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Russian overcame Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to enter the third.

"The most important thing is that I'm improving each day," Kuznetsova said.

No smooth transition

The transition has not been all that smooth as an all-time career-high of No 4 in 2004 was followed by a disappointing 2005 season. This included a straight-sets defeat against India's Sania Mirza in the second round here last year.

"I am happy that the hard work put in is showing off," Kuznetsova said.

"I could not have asked for anything better than this."

If 2004 was the highpoint, the following year was an all-time low. But it was also a learning curve for the Russian who practices in Spain with former ATP player Emilio Sanchez.

After a disappointing latter half of 2005, Kuznetsova proved she had not lost the form that brought her a Grand Slam title and a top-5 ranking.

She has been among the better players this season and the best she has come up till now is the semifinals at the Medibank International last month in Australia. She rode on that form to make it to the last-eight stage of the Australian Open.

"When you are mature, you start thinking about your game and your approach to life. You analyse much more and get to know your worth," she remarked. "But it is not the same when you are just starting off."

Happy hunting ground

Dubai has been a happy hunting ground for the Russian. Last year, she shrugged her second-round loss in the singles to end runners-up along with Alicia Molik in the doubles. Year before, she had reached the singles final where she lost to Amelie Mauresmo.

"I love this place, it motivates me so much. There are so many Russians here that it seems like Russia," she said.


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Old Feb 28th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #84
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Sharapova: Kutzy needs
to stop listening to the chatter
Kuznetsova had very little interest in winning points of any kind. She knew coming into the tournament that she had virtually no chance of winning because she hasn't learned to contend with the pressure of being a recognized elite player.

A few weeks ago, she spoke of having nothing left in the tank mentally, of how confused she was as to why, and how much she dreaded the expectations that come along with being a player who has reached the top of the mountain.

"This year I've wanted to go out and play like the US Open champion," said Kuznetsova. "I put too much pressure on myself and tried to be too good."

Her slide down has been precipitous. She hasn't won a title all year and has been unable to unleash either her tireless legs or murderous forehand. She's indecisive in big situations (like when she held two match points against Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open) and careless in small ones (like against Bychkova).

Even though the 20-year-old Kuznetsova said that she did tryin this match, it was quite clear that she wanted to go home and regroup. There was no other reason why she would lose that badly to a player who had never competed in a Slam before. She won't even try to play Fed Cup when her nation faces France in the final in three weeks time. Kuznetsova needs to relax and get a hold of where her career is headed.

"Now no one will disturb me about [being the defending champion]," she said. "No one will say anything to me. I'll just relax and take some time off. I've learned a lesson. … You can put the pressure on yourself. You think too much about what people say. I tried my best. I cannot do anything more. It wasn't my day. What can I do? Kill myself? No, just take positives out of it and try to learn."

There are no positives from that match, only that she'll get to kick back for a few weeks with her family.
There is something she can learn from one of her countrywomen, Maria Sharapova, who also won a Slam title as a teen last year, but still managed to ward off the pressure demons and, just last week, became the first Russian woman to become No. 1.

Sharapova, who took down Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-1 decided that the process was more important than the results and if she kept trying to improve and focus on broadening her game, the results would come.
That's why she's still a contender at the US Open and Kuznetsova will soon be back in some Moscow coffee house lamenting what could have been.

"I was in that period right after I won Wimbledon," said Sharapova. "The next four months I felt like I had to win every match. It's a matter of telling yourself that it's impossible to win everything no matter what people say. You can't control people's actions. … My big thing is to just keep working hard. Because one day, you're going to be on court and you'll win a match and realize that the hard work paid off. That's exactly what I did last year. I lost here and I worked my butt off."
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Old Mar 1st, 2006, 03:18 PM   #85
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Kuznetsova Commits To Charleston

Photo By Fred Mullane By Tennis Week
03/01/2006


Former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will make her Family Circle Cup debut when the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour stops in Charleston next month. Currently ranked No. 14 in the world, Kuznetsova is one of five Grand Slam champions who will be competing in the 2006 Family Circle Cup. Justine Henin-Hardenne, Mary Pierce, Serena Williams and Venus Williams are scheduled to join Kuznetsova in Charleston.




The Family Circle Cup, the only Tier I clay-court event in the United States, will be held April 8-16th at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

"Svetlana is one of the most electrifying players on the Tour," said Robin Reynolds, Facility and Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup. "Svetlana has, over the past couple of years, emerged as a real contender in women’s tennis, and we are delighted that she has chosen the Cup as one of her tournaments."

The winner of five WTA Tour singles titles, Kuznetsova, a product of St. Petersburg, Russia, will be making her first appearance at the Family Circle Cup. Kuznetsova’s breakthrough season on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour came in 2004, where at the U.S. Open, she defeated Mary Pierce, Nadia Petrova, and Lindsay Davenport en route to the final against compatriot Elena Dementieva. In only the second all-Russian Grand Slam final, she became the lowest seed (9th) to win the championship in the Open Era. She ascended to her career high ranking of No. 4 in the world in October of 2004 by winning 60 singles matches, third only to Lindsay Davenport and Amelie Mauresmo’s 63. Kuznetsova, a power-based baseliner, continued with a solid 2005 season, reaching the quarterfinals or better at eight events, including Berlin, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. In 2005 doubles play, Kuznetsova captured her first Grand Slam doubles championship at the Australian Open (with Alicia Molik). The 2005 season was Kuznetsova’s second straight season earning more than $1 million dollars, and she passed the $4 million dollar mark in career earnings at season’s end. Kuznetsova started the 2006 season strong, reaching the semifinals at Sydney (losing to eventual champion Justine Henin-Hardenne) and the fourth round at the Australian Open. Last week in Dubai, she defeated the No. 1 seed Amelie Mauresmo en route to a singles semifinal appearance, and also reached the doubles final. The 2006 Family Circle Cup will be held April 8-16 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, South Carolina. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public facility owned by the City of Charleston and operated by Family Circle Magazine that hosts a variety of events including concerts, festivals, tennis events and other special activities throughout the year. For more information on the Family Circle Tennis Center please call (843) 849-5300 or visit www.familycirclecup.com.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 04:22 PM   #86
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S. KUZNETSOVA/M. Hingis
3‑6, 6‑1, 7‑6 An interview with:



SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA



THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Could you just give a little general reaction to the match, because it was so long?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Oh, it was really tough, you know, but you are really excited to win matches like that. I didn't play so for a long time actually these, and I'm pretty excited the way I did. I stay in there all the time with my mind. I wanted to win so badly. I was hanging in there.

I mean, I didn't play so well, but, I mean, I'm very happy with the final result.

Q. What were you thinking during that tiebreak when it kept going back and forth, back and forth?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, it was only going forward all the time. I was having all the time matchpoints (smiling).

But what I was thinking, I was just thinking, "Come on, just make it," because I was just winning the point and then I was doing an error. I was winning a point and making an error. So it all depended on me.

I was like, "Okay." The last one I was like, "Whatever happens, I just put the ball in and see what she can do." So she made a mistake, and I really couldn't believe it, it was out, so I was so like happy about everything.

Q. Did you know it was out?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, I saw it was out but I was not sure because she completely won all the Eye calls almost, all like three last ones. So I was like, "Okay, maybe this Eye is for her." So all the time saying like calling ball for her, you know. Like I was not sure because I am not sure in this machine at all because like all the time she was right and I was wrong. So I wasn't sure. But I saw it was out.

Q. Did you turn around and watch?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, of course. I didn't turn around. I was just standing there, I was shaking, "Okay, maybe this one gonna be wrong one." I was like ‑‑ and I saw her smiling, so I said, "I guess she thinks it was out, but I'll stay," because I didn't want to do step forward to shake hands and I didn't want to go back because I thought was out. So I was just, "Okay, what is going on here?"

Q. You could tell that she was getting tired and massaged.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, she took the physio in very complicated moment. I mean, I had to serve with the wind, so I probably win all these games on that side, you know. She didn't broke me once on this side, you know. Like it stop the game for me also. It's hard of to serve, so I had to stay focused.

Then I knew she was not moving perfectly, but I didn't want to think about it, you know, because I always have all time, even more, to hit the ball or something. I was already overhitting it so...

I was just staying calm.
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Old Mar 29th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #87
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S. KUZNETSOVA/A. Sugiyama
6‑0, 7‑6

An interview with:



SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA



THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It seems that you are back to your best level.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I still hope to get much better than this (smiling).

But definitely I am very happy. I worked very hard preseason, and I been working a lot on myself and on my game like last tournaments. I am pretty happy with my improvement, you know.

It seems like black line in my life for the moment, it's over. It looks much lighter, everything. I am more happy on the court. I am very excited about my match, my game, and I really enjoy the game on the court. I never enjoyed that much before.

Now it looks to me like I am under control of situation.

Q. Your confidence is back?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yes, definitely I have much more confidence. Not on the top of, you know, because I never want to think like I'm on top of something, or it's the end. I think the end is in the sky. I mean, everything is possible in the life.

I want to just keep improving and keep playing much better and just really looking forward to play my next match.

Q. What has been your best match so far this season, do you think?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: My what?

Q. Your best match.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: My best match. I think I played very well against Martina. I mean, I didn't ‑‑ she played very smart against me. She's very smart player. She play me so very uncomfortable, but I still was there, I was still playing all the match.

Then I played very good match against Amelie in Dubai, definitely. I think these are probably my highlights of this season.

Q. Those are good wins. So you can look forward now to have some others?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yes, definitely. I mean, I am improving match by match. I am really happy about it. Still looking forward, big matches to come more.

Q. I have a question about instant replay.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yes.

Q. If you look at the numbers, the lines people are wrong about 25% of the time. So let's say 25% of close calls, they're actually wrong. Do you think that's a good number or a bad number for a lines person?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: You know, the thing is it's hard to say because they still human, you know. That's why they make this Eye call, and that's why it's so interesting. You still can challenge and you still have chance to win, you know. This is the good thing about line calling.

But then, I mean, the speed is so fast, you know. I don't think you would be happy to sit out there and to challenge this ball, you know, when you have so much pressure on you and the ball is coming and the speed is really quick.

Q. But in your opinion, is one out of four too many, or is that a good number for someone calling lines?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I would say it's all right (smiling).

Q. You would say it's all right?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I don't want to blame nobody. I just want to keep out, you know (smiling). Just chill, you know. Whatever, it's happens. You know, bad calls happens. It's tennis, it's all about the game, you know. You get upset, but you still have to keep playing.

Q. Your face says that maybe you think that number is too high?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: (Laughing). My face may say many things, but my tongue telling what I think, what I have to say, you know.

Q. Are you going to watch tonight the match between Amelie and Nadia?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I think I am going to go to swimming pool. I saw enough tennis (laughing).

I don't think I gonna stay here tonight. I think I gonna go home because I spend lots of time on the court, and I saw ‑‑ I played Amelie, and I know more or less how that Nadia plays. And my coach will do that job, so...
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 02:35 PM   #88
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S. KUZNETSOVA/A. Mauresmo
6-1, 6-4

An interview with:

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Svetlana, please.

Q. Got to be a pretty good moment for you?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, definitely, I'm pretty excited with the way I played. You know, I been dictating the match almost all the time. I could have done better, as always, you know, but I mean, I am pretty excited with the way I played.

I played very well first set. Second set was pretty close, but I knew I have to hang there. Otherwise, if I let Amelie play a little bit, I wouldn't get it back, I wouldn't have another chance.

And I think I did pretty well, and I knew I gonna have other chance if I can use it. It's look to me I did use it.

Q. What did you do exceptionally well today in particular with your tennis?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I guess I didn't want to go over shot, you know. I didn't want to overhit the ball. You know, I think I was pretty well playing the shots, the selection of the shots, I was doing it pretty well. Because sometimes I can see balls easy and I know I can do so much, so many things with the ball, that I like want to break it, you know.

Today I was just playing the space I have to play. I was choosing the right shots and I was pretty calm with myself. I just was staying there, playing the match.

Q. You get a lot of confidence from having beaten her earlier this year?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, I mean, definitely. Because I played Amelie three, four times before this year and I always lost close matches. I had lots of break points and I never could manage to break her serve, maybe because it was something about believing me or whatever.

You know, this year in Dubai I managed to beat her. I mean, today was tough 'cause before the match I didn't know what will go on there, you know. I didn't -- I knew I have chances, but like I also know that she's No. 1 player in the world - she can play very well. So I just wanted to go out there and play my best game.

Q. Do you think that she was off her game today?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's pretty hard to say, you know, because I been dictating a lot in first set. In second set, she got better, definitely she played better. But I also let her play a little bit more.

I think if I wouldn't win first two games on her serve, it would be completely different match, you know, because I get 3-Love and she got beaten I'm sure. Maybe she was not at her best, I don't know. When you lose, you're never at your best. But other opponent can also play well.

Q. Does your family travel with you? Can you talk a little bit about your background, so immersed in cycling.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, no, nobody travels for me, with me, from my family. I don't need it, you know. I don't feel like. I don't like -- my dad, he never saw me play in life, tennis, because he works a lot. He wanted to come when I played Kremlin Cup maybe like two years ago, one year ago, and I said I don't want you to come because, I mean, he never been in my matches before and now he gonna come and I didn't want to put the ball in, no.

And my mom, she put a lot on me, you know, a lot of effort. "Til I come to Spain 14, 15, she was always there with me. Then she would travel with me in the start and then I wanted to travel with coach, you know. Because mom, it's a mom. I cannot take my mom as a coach. Of course both my mom and dad, they always watch the matches and were always trying to tell me what to do. You know, I not trying to help them how to ride the bike, you know, how to win six champions of the world. They do it good, why I have to tell them? You know.

So I really had little bit of conflict with this about my parents but everybody got to understand what everybody want to do. I had my choice and I decided to travel alone. I'm pretty happy - I have great family, they help me a lot. They teach me how to work hard, how you really want it badly, you got to work for it. You got to work every day. Because my dad's team, they never have rest. He has likes six Olympic or seven Olympic champions. And his bicycling, he won like five or six Olympic medals, he's very good. He made cyclists from ten years old to Olympic champions - not one, not two, about five or seven people.

So, you know, he is very good in cycling. But tennis, it's a bit different. He coach my mom, he coach my brother, but not me. He send me to play tennis. In the end I decided to play tennis by my own.

Q. Before you got into tennis, did you have big cycling trips with your family? When you were a little kid, was cycling a huge, huge thing in your family?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, of course. I didn't live with my parents. I live with my parents, but not in the same room maybe with my mom, and then I start to live alone. But my dad, he never leaves his team alone. He always lives with his team. He has a base like in Spain, in St. Petersburg. They have big house where everybody lives.

So until like I left, I was staying with the team all the time. I was living with guys, biking all day long. I go to school, I come back, I train, and then what I saw, it was only bikes.

But I love to do. I had preseason, so you wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning and I had to go for a jog for an hour. They had like four practices in a day, every day, and they never have break. I love to do it. I was waking up at 7 o'clock in the morning, was going to run. On Sunday I played football with them. I just was exciting to do this, you know, and the guys were telling me, you know, like, What you doing? Just go to the bed. We wish to be in the bed. We wish to have you a chance in bed. And I didn't like to do it - I wanted to do sport. I wanted to move. I always wanted to move on bike. I had like five of them.

Q. You had five bikes?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, like five. Because the guys always working something about the brake on the bike or the seat, you know. I always wanted to change something on my bike. So couple times I changed my brakes and I completely fell because only forward worked, you know (smiling).

Q. So, first of all, two questions. Were you really into cycling at one point? Why were you staying with your dad's team, just to spend time with him?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: No, because my parents stay there. Like I cannot -- my dad staying in this house, like my mom also would stay there, you know. We cannot leave out there.

Also, I like to hang out with guys. And I was like, you know, I was like -- they were afraid of my dad, but I was daughter of his, you know. But they still trust me like their sister, you know, because they knew I never gonna say nothing to my dad. I was on their part.

Q. How old were you during this?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Since I was seven, six, five. Like, yeah, I been traveling. We went to championship of the world in Moscow, and we went there. And I also saw them cycling. I tried it. I really did some races. I was maybe like 10 and the other girls were 17, but I still loved to do it. I loved this thing. And people would come to watch you when you do cycling.

Then one day suddenly my dad said, you know, You got to do something else. Because when he had my mom on team, he had women's and men's team, and then one day he decide it's too complicated to have both because it's tough.

And then he said he gonna have only guys and he didn't want to open ladies' group, and he send me to play tennis, yeah.

Q. Are they in Russia?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: They both place. They stay sometimes in Spain, in Tortosa, it's in between Valencia and Barcelona. And St. Petersburg. Now, he work so hard for bike, you know. His life is not about, like, money or something. He has such a different mentality. Now he is building a huge complex in St. Petersburg, the biggest in Russia. He looking for sponsors to invest, you know. He's looking for something to do for cycling in Russia. He likes so much in cycling.

Q. When a player wins a Grand Slam at a young age, sometimes it takes them a long to realize what's happened. Your results after the US Open and in 2005 were pretty inconsistent. Now it seems like you're reaching a more consistent level with your play. Can you talk about the change.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, you know, once, I was so curious what was going on, you know, because you're like 19, you win US Open, and you don't win anything and you have so much pressure. I was one day reading interview of Marat, and he said the same thing. When he won the Open, he was not ready for it. The same did I.

Like, yeah, I played good. I was Top 12, Top 10, and then suddenly everything comes and you play so good and then you win, and then everybody expects more. You play so many tournaments in a row and you cannot, you just don't have energy. Then suddenly you lose your confidence, and this is where it breaks.

You cannot go, you cannot lift your head up, and you lose confidence. I start to get injuries and I was not that ready to handle this pressure. I didn't work with any psychologist. I was just on my own. I had many people telling me different opinions. I didn't know where to go. I didn't know who's part I have to take.

The end of 2005, I just took my time. I just decided, you know, I have to change, I cannot have this match anymore in my head. I just have to go somewhere. I took very important decisions for me outside of the court.

Q. What did you do outside of the court?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I don't want to talk about it, but, I mean, I did very important things for me in my life. I decided with whom I will have to work. I had lots of opinions of people around. I decided the way I have to go, and this is what worked for me. For the moment, it's working. I'm very happy. Finally, I start to play I think for my own, for me, because I had motivation different parts, what I have to do, for who I have to play.

Now, I just do it on my own. I do it for me. I do it with my coach and I work hard and I enjoy every day of my life. I enjoy being out there every time, because it's great pleasure, no, to play tennis and to be a professional athlete.

Q. Where is your confidence now compared to when you won the Open?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's different. It's just -- I find myself completely different person, you know. I was a kid and I won, I was excited. Nothing else. I didn't understand what was going on with me. I deserved to win because I was working very hard, but I still was not sure in myself. I didn't believe that much. Now I feel much better.

Q. The changes you made that you just referred to, were they tennis-related or personal-related?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Both. Everything. Everything completely change from night to day more or less. Yeah, it's about everything. It's about training, where I have to train. It's about my private life. It's about things out of the court. It's about things where I have to live, where I have to stay. It's about everything.

Just, you know, just my thing. I just don't want to go out and tell it to everybody. But, I mean, I had really important decision for myself.

Q. Which you made entirely by yourself? You just sat down one day and said, "I have to make this decision"?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I do it with my heart, as I feel. As I feel. I know what my heart wants, and I need to live for me, you know. I don't have to live and listen to people, even they important, you know. I have to know what listen to myself, what I want to do, because you have only one life.

Q. So before this tournament you'd never been to a Tier I final. Besides the US Open, you've never been to the semifinals of another major. How important is this win and getting to the finals of a tournament of this stature?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It's very important. I'm very excited, but I don't want to think about it. Before I would go, "Wow, I did already enough." You know, it's enough. If I play well, I play well. Now, it's not like this. It's completely different. I am just there and have fun, you know. I am playing very good tennis. Why wouldn't I enjoy it? Why would I have to put pressure on myself? I just go and I play. I keep my forehand. I hit very good backhand. I come to the net. I enjoy the game. I hope that people also enjoy it. I'm just excited to live with it.

Q. When you won, you were very serious. Your face, you didn't seem to get excited. I know that Mauresmo is your doubles partner and I guess you're close to her. How difficult was that? Was it kind of awkward? Did you guys talk? Talk about the doubles aspect, you're still playing with her.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It was very hard. I am kind of sad, you know. But I know I come to the gym and I said my coach, you know, I a bit sad because I don't want to -- Amelie is different to me because she's my doubles partner, she's very nice to me. But he said, "Look, you got to do what you got to do. You had to play, you played well." I had mistakes before because I played with people who very close and I cannot play.

But this is, like, look, do the job and outside we are friends. I don't want to yell "C'mon," I didn't do it once in the match, I didn't say anything. Because I don't feel like this, you know. I do as I feel, and I play as I can, you know. I played my best, and I am sad that Amelie lost, but I am happy for myself because I work hard enough and I think I deserve place in the final.

But, you know, she's my friend. I'm not gonna go there and be an animal against her.

Q. Can you talk about playing Tatiana or Maria.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: I mean, both gonna be tough because it's a final of Tier I, you know. If you get there, you deserve it, I think. Maybe you had easy draw, whatever, but you won like six matches to get here.

Maria is very tough opponent. She played final last week, last tournament. It's gonna be both very tough. Both hard hitters, hit very flat. I have to move both around. And tactics is gonna be pretty different. I have to change a space a lot and just to try to play my game.

Q. How different is your everyday life when you're winning consistently as opposed to when you're losing first, second round, being out of singles? Are you happier every day? Do you have more energy? Do you do more things? What's it like?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: This is pretty complicated question. Because I was thinking about a lot. I am a person, I cannot, when I (live/leave), I need every day to be something different. I cannot -- I have this routine, like I practice, but I practice like for one month and a half in Spain, I get completely nuts because I want to play tournaments, I want to win matches. This year I really want it badly, you know, just to play, enjoy, and do my best. By this, I gonna win many matches.

When I won tournament, when I lose, it just looks like just brings me down. But this down makes me understand how bad I want it, to be back there, and how hard I need to work and what I have to improve. It's makes me learn.

And if I win, it's like normal day, you know. It's happy, I am happy because I am success, you know. I am doing the right thing. I am improving. I am very happy. Especially when you win top players, you are more excited because you feeling the level, you feeling you coming back to your shape, you improving your game and just live.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 03:08 PM   #89
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Svet Success: Kuznetsova Knocks Out No. 1 Mauresmo To Reach Miami Final

Photo By Fred Mullane By Richard Pagliaro
03/31/2006

Another framed forehand rattled off the racquet of Amelie Mauresmo and the world No. 1 stared down at the face of her Dunlop frame and shook it in frustration as if trying to free it from the errors that were streaming from her strings and find some solutions for the forehands Svetlana Kuznetsova continued to pound into the corners of the court during the opening set of today's Nasdaq-100 Open semifinals.




A quizzical Mauresmo kept trying to pose questions, but Kuznetsova had all the answers.

In a commanding performance that saw her dictate play with her favored forehand, the 12th-seeded Kuznetsova cracked 33 winners and did not drop serve in crushing Mauresmo, 6-1, 6-4, to advance to her first Nasdaq-100 Open final. Playing her third semifinal of the season, Kuznetsova, who reached the final four in Sydney and Dubai, surged into her first final of the the year. It was Kuznetsova's second straight win over Mauresmo, who beat the 2004 U.S. Open champion in their first four meetings before Kuznetsova broke through with a 7-6(11), 6-4, triumph in last month's Dubai quarterfinals.

Drawing on that victory — as well as watching a pre-match DVD replay of her dramatic 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(9) victory over former World No. 1 Martina Hingis in a memorable two hour, 26-minute third-round match on Sunday — gave Kuznetsova the confidence to take the match to Mauresmo from the first shot today.

"Sometimes you beat a player and you know more or less how you got to play against her," Kuznetsova said. "I knew I had to play my forehand against her. In the past, I was losing because I didn't believe in myself. Today, I started very well. Amelie started to play better in the second set. I hung in there and I'm very happy with the way I played today. I was a bit nervous in the morning so I watched the DVD of (the) Hingis (match)."

Kuznetsova might consider popping a DVD of today's semifinal into her laptop before taking on either fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova or 22nd-seeded Tatiana Golovin in Saturday's final. Kuznetsova and Sharapova have split their four career meetings with Sharapova scoring successive victories in their last two matches, including a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory in the 2005 Australian Open quarterfinals. They will share the same side of the court in the doubles semifinals when Mauresmo and Kuznetsova played the top-seeded team of Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur in Friday's doubles semifinals, but Kuznetsova often pushed her partner beyond the boundaries of the singles lines today.

Competing with the consistency that has often eluded her since she became the lowest-seeded woman to win the U.S. Open in the Open Era in 2004, Kuznetsova is now one win from claiming her first tournament title since whe won the Tier III Bali title in September of 2004.

"I think you can see she was not giving too many free points so these things tell you how consistent she's getting," Mauresmo said. "She's lost some weight and she's quick to the ball."



Running around her backhand whenever she could with the short, precise preparation steps she honed on the red clay of the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, Kuznetsova crafted a powerful pattern of play throughout the first set. Cornering Mauresmo with a flurry of inside-out forehands that pinned the French woman into protecting her backhand, Kuznetsova patiently awaited the inevitable short ball before taking short, swift steps to her left, setting her feet and unloading untouchable forehand winners down the line.

That potent one-two punch carried Kuznetsova to a 5-0 lead. Ripping returns and looking to leap on any short ball, Kuznetsova won 10 of the 17 points played on Mauresmo's serve before Mauresmo finally held in the sixth game. It was a short-lived reprieve as Kuznetsova closed out the opening set with yet another forceful forehand; she hit 12 winners compared to two for Mauresmo in the opening set.

Entering this encounter with a 23-3 record on the season, Mauresmo had avenged two of her losses — a second-round setback to Ana Ivanovic and a loss to Nadia Petrova in the Doha final — in the preceding rounds as she scored a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ivanovic in the round of 16 before pounding Petrova, 6-3, 6-1, in the quarterfinals. While Mauresmo had revenge on her mind, Kuznetsova refused to give up ground in the baseline exchanges.

Unable to defend against the onslaught, the reigning Australian Open champion changed up her tactics in the second set and began to move forward into the court in an effort to take the net away from her doubles partner. In the third game of the second set, a Kuznetsova backhand pass was ruled good, but Mauresmo challenged the call, replay showed the shot was wide and the challenge helped Mauresmo save a break point. Mauresmo let out a primal scream in an effort to pump herself up, but could not shout down the screaming winners from Kuznetsova's racquet.

"She's one of two or three players hitting the ball the hardest of anybody," Mauresmo said. "She played really well. I started to serve-and-volley because I couldn't play deep enough to really annoy her."

Undaunted, Kuznetsova scored the crucial break in the seventh game when Mauresmo ran around her backhand and flailed a forehand into net to drop serve at 30. Kuznetsova consolidated when she measured a forehand, stepped inside the baseline and swatted a forehand winner down the line to hold for 5-3. Mauresmo saved a match point in the ninth game, but Kuznetsova converted her third match point in the next game, shuffling to her left then firing a forehand winner down the line to close out an impressive victory. With the win, Kuznetsova raised her record to 16-4 on the season with her lone losses coming to three former No. 1 players — Justine Henin-Hardenne (Sydney and Dubai), Lindsay Davenport (Australian Open) and Martina Hingis (Doha). Should Kuznetsova hoist the title trophy on Saturday she will displace the MIA Venus Williams for the 10th spot in the WTA Tour rankings, marking her first entry into the top 10 since September 11, 2005. If she loses the final, Kuznetsova will be ranked 11th when the new WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 03:36 PM   #90
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SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA

Impressive, upsetting win

Bothered by having to play her friend and doubles partner, Svetlana Kuznetsova beat top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo to reach the women's singles final.

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

Svetlana Kuznetsova had just defeated the world's No. 1 female tennis player Thursday to advance to Saturday's NASDAQ-100 Open women's final, but you couldn't tell by her stoic expression. She didn't smile, didn't even pump a fist -- just shook hands and walked off Stadium Court.

Across the net: top-ranked Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, Kuznetsova's close friend and doubles partner.

''It was very hard. I am kind of sad, you know,'' said the Russian victor, whose 6-1, 6-4 win took 79 minutes. 'I come to the gym and I said to my coach, `You know, I'm a bit sad because I [didn't] want to . . .' Amelie is different to me because she's my doubles partner -- she's very nice to me.

'But he said, `Look, you got to do what you got to do. You had to play. You played well.' I had mistakes before because I played with people who [are] very close [to me] and I cannot play. But this is like, 'Do the job,' and outside we are friends.''

Fourteenth-ranked Kuznetsova, who has handed Mauresmo two of her four losses this year, will meet Maria Sharapova -- who advanced when Tatiana Golovin retired trailing 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 4-3 -- in the final at noon Saturday. Kuznetsova also defeated Mauresmo in straight sets last month in a quarterfinal at Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Thursday, Kuznetsova blew away her doubles partner -- the two will play in the doubles semifinals today -- in the first set in 26 minutes, dominating with fierce groundstrokes.

''She played really well,'' said Mauresmo, 26, who won her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January and will still be ranked first next week. ``She hit very hard on both sides and very long. I was trying everything I could out there. I was getting frustrated that I could not express myself in the game.''

Kuznetsova, 20, lives and trains in Barcelona, Spain. She grew up in a family of world-class cyclists from St. Petersburg, Russia.

Her father, Alexandr, has coached six Olympic and world champions, including her mother, Galina Tsareva, a six-time world champion. Her brother, Nikolai, won an Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

''I tried it,'' Kuznetsova said. ``I really did some races. I was maybe like 10 and the other girls were 17, but I still loved to do it.

'Then one day suddenly my dad said, `You know, you got to do something else.' Because when he had my mom on team, he had women's and men's team, and one day he decide it's too complicated to have both. He said he going to have only guys.

``He [sent] me to play tennis.''

She worked her way to No. 4 in the rankings in October 2004 after winning the U.S. Open -- her only Grand Slam title. And even though she has dipped out of the top-10, her career is on the rise again.

This week her victims included Martina Hingis, against whom she saved a match point in a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (11-9) fourth-round victory. And despite her immediate reaction after beating Mauresmo on Thursday, Kuznetsova had reason to be pleased.

''I'm pretty excited with the way I played,'' said Kuznetsova, one of seven Russian women ranked among the top-20. ``I dictated the match almost all the time. The second set was pretty close, but I knew I have to hang in there. Otherwise, if I let Amelie play a little bit, I wouldn't get it back.''
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