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Old Jun 17th, 2004, 07:56 PM   #1
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Sveta articles

Kuznetsova - rising up the rankings
KUZNETSOVA BOOSTS RUSSIAN REVOLUTION By Mark Staniforth, PA Sport

Svetlana Kuznetsova is the latest Russian to spearhead her country's assault on the top of women's tennis.

The 18-year-old Muscovite reached number 14 in the world rankings this week after a breakthrough fortnight in the Middle East.

Last year's surprise Wimbledon quarter-finalist has barely broken stride since joining the senior circuit.

Successful and educational doubles pairings with veteran legends Martina Navratilova and Todd Woodbridge are clearly beginning to pay off.

Kuznetsova has won the WTA's performance of the week award for two weeks running, following her Dubai quarter-final win over Venus Williams by becoming the first player to snap Justine Henin-Hardenne's winning streak this week.

The Belgian world number one had won all 16 of her matches this year until Kuznetsova came from a set behind to reach the final in Doha.

"I believed in myself," said Kuznetsova. "I knew I could win the match. You get experience from playing the top players."

Kuznetsova's is not a stereotypical story of overbearing parents thrusting a tennis racket into daughter's hands before she can walk.

She grew up in Moscow in a family of cyclists and admits she was largely oblivious to the new trend begun by stars like Anna Kournikova and Marat Safin.

Only in her early teens did Kuznetsova belatedly begin to excel enough to earn a scholarship at the famous Emilio Sanchez Academy in Spain.

But she admits that having reached a competitive level the influx of young Russian rivals only helped spur her on to success.

Kuznetsova is only the fifth-ranked Russian at number 14, behind Anastasia Myskina - who beat her in Qatar - Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova. Five more Russians take the total to 10 in the top 100.

Kutnetsova said: "I think there is no doubt the success is because we are so many.

"We compete against each other because everybody wants to prove they are the best in their country.

"One person gets good results and the other wants to do better. We are very competitive but it is all positive. We are friends with each other - but when we get on court we fight.

"It is also because of the mentality. It is very tough practising in Russia and you never have sponsorship. There is a lot of talent but you have to get lucky."

In Kuznetsova's case she admits she has been boosted by the close attention of a player almost 30 year her senior.

Navratilova has helped Kuznetsova garner 10 doubles titles already, including two this year.

And the young Russian admits she is lucky to have such a legend on her side as she begins to focus on cracking the top 10.

"I learn a lot from Martina - I learn and learn. She shows me lots of things.

"She explains what she thinks about my game and what I can do to get better."
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© Jorge Ferrari

Players Quickly Taking Notice of Kuznetsova

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - After Svetlana Kuznetsova's performances over the last two weeks, there's probably more than just a few players at this week's Pacific Life Open who paid closer attention to where the Russian was in the draw. "I’m enjoying playing my game now," said Kuznetsova, who is the No.12 seed this week in Indian Wells. "I do not feel any pressure with the attention I’m getting. I love people to come and watch me. That’s what we do, we play for people and I want to play my best and be able to give them a good show."

Although she won two singles titles back in 2002 (Helsinki, Bali), it was rather clear from the first week that this was the year that Kuznetsova's game was ready to move to a new level. Despite a first round setback in Hobart, the 18-year-old reached the quarterfinals in Gold Coast and fought through a tough straight sets loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the third round at the Australian Open.

Kuznetsova, who resides in her birthplace of St. Petersburg, took the next four weeks off before having her first true breakthrough of the season in Dubai, marching through to the final, but not before a bit of commotion along the way. She began the week by upsetting No.7 seed Francesca Schiavone and two rounds later made the stunning upset of No.2 seed Venus Williams.

Her semifinal match saw another seed pushed aside, this time No.5 Ai Sugiyama falling victim to the Russian's thunderous game before a rematch with Henin-Hardenne awaited Kuznetsova in the final. The two battled to a tiebreak in the first set before the World No.1 emerged from the first set and finished off the match in the second.

The loss to Henin-Hardenne didn't derail Kuznetsova's spirits and she only showed up stronger the following week in Doha, losing only seven games in wins against Stephanie Cohen-Aloro and Anca Barna. Meghann Shaughnessy was lucky enough to take the first set in their quarterfinal clash before the Russian ignited to blaze into the semifinals.

Once again, there sat Henin-Hardenne - riding a 16-match winning streak and the only person on Tour looking more invincible at the moment than Kuznetsova. But this time, a confident Kuznetsova handed Henin-Hardenne her first loss of the year and marched into a title match for the second straight week.

Kuznetsova began the year at No.36 in the world, but her recent back-to-back championship match appearances have pushed her all the way to a career-best No.14.

"It’s good to have a ranking goal, but for me, the most important thing is to keep improving my game and my concentration, the rankings will follow," Kuznetsova said. "At the beginning of the year, I was aiming at the Top 20, I didn’t expect to reach it so fast. I am playing well at the moment and I am enjoying these past two weeks."

One of Kuznetsova's big inspirations this year has been former doubles partner and current mentor (as part of the WTA Tour's Partners For Success program) Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Kuznetsova teamed with Sanchez-Vicario to win three doubles titles in 2002 and the former World No.1 has been a big motivator this season.

"She is my mentor on and off the court," Kuznetsova said. "I spoke to her tonight right after my match (against Justine). She’s always giving me advice. I can talk to her about anything whether it’s tennis or anything else. She also made me more confident and believed in me. When she asked me to play doubles with her, I was very honored."

Kuznetsova, who is currently ranked No.5 in doubles, was also honored when tennis legend Martina Navratilova personally approached Sanchez-Vicario and asked if she could start playing with Kuznetsova once the Spaniard retired at the end of the 2002 season.

"Martina has also always been good to me," Kuznetsova said. "She taught me a lot, mainly to have a better attitude during matches and to be positive. She also told me to move more forward, and to come to the net, serve and volley. I try to do this now. Basically, she’s taught me to be more professional."

Playing alongside two of tennis' greatest players has surely benefitted the 18-year-old, but having a family pedigree filled with athletic greatness definitely plays a part in Kuznetsova's drive to become successful in her line of work.

Kuznetsova's father, Alexandr, has been the cycling coach to five Olympic champions and world champions and is currently the coach of Lokomotiv, the best cycling club in Russia. Her mother, Galina Tsareva is a six-time world champion and holder of 20 world records. Even brother Nikolai has found second-generation success, picking up a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"I’m Russian and I would love to do well for my country," Kuznetsova said. "Olympics have always been a passion in my family. My father went, my brother went and won a silver medal. My mother, who won six world championships, never went although it was her dream to go. She was not able to go. So now, I also want to do this for my mother. It will make her so so proud and happy."

Kuznetsova's leap in the rankings definitely can't hurt her chances of reaching this summer's Olympic Games in Athens as a singles participant. She's also already began preparations on the doubles side, pairing this year with countrywoman Elena Likhovtseva. The duo are currently in the top position of the Porsche Race to the Championships Team standings and have won titles in Gold Coast and Doha.




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Old Jun 17th, 2004, 09:34 PM   #2
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To Kuznetsova, what Myskina has is a lot of fight. "She just fights very much," Kuznetsova said, "and she never gives you an easy game. She runs. And she's clever, you know."



Kuznetsova's assets are more robust. She might not be able to lift a building, but she looks as if she could. With her strength, she could be the most nimble of the Russians.

"Maybe," she said.

A modest sort, Kuznetsova, now ranked No. 9. Also a dedicated individual. She has chosen to make her base not in her place of birth, St. Petersburg, but in Barcelona, Spain, where the climate is more conducive to playing tennis than it is in the place associated with the czars. She acknowledged she misses her homeland.

"But if I want to be something in my life, I have to do something," she explained. "I can be No. 1, I think."

A large statement by a player who has yet to break through in a WTA Tour singles event, but listen to Kuznetsova and one gets the feeling her ambitions are realistic.

"I want to improve my speed, my game, everything," she said. "I'm looking for perfection in everything. It's like I am in competition with myself."

But for one point, it might have been Kuznetsova being acclaimed in Paris rather than Myskina. In her match against Myskina, Kuznetsova, serving, held match point. "But I was rushing too much," she said. She failed on a ground stroke and Myskina was able to complete a 1-6, 6-4, 8-6 conquest. From there, Myskina went on to her straight-set decimation of Elena Dementieva (also due at La Costa) in the final.

This will be only the second appearance in Wimbledon's main draw for Kuznetsova. In her first a year ago, she was among a record five Russian women who gained the fourth round (Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Myskina and the stylish Sharapova being the others).

Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, the tour's ranking player, stopped Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-2. Kuznetsova's effort suggested her game fits nicely on grass, but she said she doesn't regard grass as her preferred surface. "Not really," she said. "I think I can play anywhere."
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Old Jul 9th, 2004, 11:05 PM   #3
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Fearsome Kuznetsova freewheels into final

Russian cycling's loss is tennis's gain

Richard Jago in Dubai
Saturday February 28, 2004
The Guardian



Kuznetsova: St Petersburg powerhouse
Svetlana Kuznetsova, an 18-year-old from a family of world-beating cyclists, proved herself a rising new force by beating her third seed of the week here and bursting into the world's top 20 for the first time.



After eliminating the world No5 Ai Sugiyama, Kuznetsova revealed how she was allowed to escape the world of wheels. She tried cycling when her father Alexandr, who coached both her mother and brother to Olympic medals, introduced her to his obsession.

"My first race I did well - I came last," she said with a deadpan face. "The second race was so boring I stopped. So my father said 'Try something else.' And so I did."

It may prove a decisive moment for tennis. Ten years later the powerhouse from St Petersburg followed her conquest of Venus Williams with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over Sugiyama with a frightening display of hitting in which she conceded a mere eight points in a 17-minute first set.

It meant that, as Venus was winging her way back to the United States, and Serena Williams was extending her absence to eight months by withdrawing from next week's tournament in Doha, the formidably built Russian was reaching her biggest final. The Gulf sunshine beams down on a shifting world order.

"I was shocked by the first set," said Sugiyama. "She's extremely good and she can be even better." How good, depends principally on the inside of the teenager's head and upon how reliably she can harness a heavy first serve and fearsome forehand without runaway errors.

The Japanese manoeuvred her way back to a situation where she had two points for a double break at 1-3 in the second set, finding ways to keep the ball in play long enough to gain some free points. Kuznetsova knows this must not happen too often.

"I tried to think of it as like a game in which I have just broken serve and it is important not to lose serve yourself," she said. "I thought today would be tougher than yesterday [against Venus]."

Kuznetsova now plays the defending champion, Justine Henin-Hardenne, the world No1, who reached the final with a 6-4, 6-2 win over the unseeded American Meghann Shaughnessy.

Henin played with greater fluency in the second set and made a vastly increased ratio of net attacks, of which 92% were successful.

"I know I need to play this way if I am to have a chance of winning Wimbledon," she said, referring to the only grand slam title she has yet to win.

Henin upset some people in Belgium by withdrawing with mild bronchitis from last week's Antwerp event and she is keen to prove she was right to play here in the sun by winning the title a second time. But she knows Kuznetsova has been leathering the ball perhaps as hard as the Williams sisters. "I must be careful," Henin acknowledged.

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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 11:27 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by John Inverdale
"My first race I did well - I came last," she said with a deadpan face. "The second race was so boring I stopped. So my father said 'Try something else.' And so I did."


btw-->thanks for these arcticles guys
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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 02:32 PM   #5
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Teenager Svetlana Kuznetsova kept the young Russian revolution on the march as she battled back to grab the Hastings Direct International Championship from Daniela Hantuchova at Eastbourne.

The second seed came from behind to win 2-6 7-6 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes, and was at one stage two points from defeat when wild card Hantuchova served for the match in the second set.

And although former world number five Hantuchova has put her career back on the rails, after slipping out of the top 50, the 18-year-old Kuznetsova from St Petersburg fully deserved her first title this year and her first ever on grass.

Compatriot Anastasia Myskina won the French Open earlier this month, beating another Russian Elena Dementieva in the final, while Maria Sharapova won the DFS Classic title at Birmingham just a week after Anna Chakvetadze was edged out of the Surbiton Trophy final by Japan's Akiko Morigami.

The first set, won by Hantuchova in just 30 minutes, was exactly in line with this week's Eastbourne form.

Kuznetsova had lost the opener in both her two previous encounters while the Slovak had taken the first set in three of her four earlier rounds until meeting, and eventually beating, top seed Amelie Mauresmo on Friday.

Hantuchova was soon producing her armoury of forehand passes down the line, feeding off the speed of the Russian's groundstrokes and, after making the breakthrough to lead 2-1, she comfortably consolidated in the next game.

Kuznetsova, seeded eight at Wimbledon, soon grew frustrated at her own errors but it was her rival's piercing accuracy that did the damage. Hantuchova, full of confidence, broke through again for 5-2 and then closed up the set when the Russian hit a return from the baseline long and wide.

But neither player offered the other much opportunity again until deep into the second set when Hantuchova had to fight off two break points at 2-2 with a pair of unreturnable serves and then another one two games later.

Kuznetsova's serve was rattled down with metronomic regularity, winning two games to love, but she slammed her racket down after missing another opportunity to get the break and the pressure clearly took its toll as the Russian handed Hantuchova her chance to take the match with a disastrous service game.

Sheer bravery got Kuznetsova out of trouble, though, breaking back at 6-5 down on the Hantuchova serve to force the tie-break.

And that turned out a formality for the powerful Kuznetsova delivery plus one particularly stunning cross-court backhand as she routed Hantuchova 7-2 to tie up the match.

There was nothing to choose between them until the ninth game of the decider when Hantuchova, having rescued herself with two big serves from 30-down, volleyed wide to be broken at 4-5.

And although Kuznetsova faced three break-back points in the 10th she persevered with her serve and ground out a solid victory.

A tired Kuznetsova could not take the chance to add more winnings as she and partner Elena Likhovtseva were beaten 6-4 6-4 by Australia's Alicia Molik and Magui Serna of Spain in the doubles final.
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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 02:39 PM   #6
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Battling Kuznetsova Wins First Grass Court Title
19th June 2004 - Report by Rob Eyton-Jones




Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova battled back from the brink of defeat to win her first ever grass court title at the Hastings Direct International Championships at Eastbourne today.

The second seed was at one stage two points from defeat when wild card Daniela Hantuchova served for the match in the second set. But Kuznetsova came from behind to win 2-6 7-6 6-4.

"It is another great result for Russian tennis," said Kuznetsova, who will turn 19 on the first Sunday of the Wimbledon fortnight where she was a quarter-finalist on her debut last year and is seeded eight this time.

"But I must stop giving opponents a set start because that makes it much more difficult.

"I got frustrated because I made too many simple mistakes to begin with. I find it hard to get into matches sometimes and I was playing a much-improved player today.

"I hit with her at the start of the week but all I could do in the final was stay in there with her and hope my game came together. Happily it did. Now everyone wants to know how I will play at Wimbledon. I can't say I am going to win it but I'm one of many who could."

Hantuchova won the first set in just 30 minutes and she missed an opportunity to wrap up the match at 6-5 in the second.

"I had the match in my hands but didn't do anything about it," she said. "In the end I was just trying to make her play as many balls as possible because her serve was better controlled than mine in the wind and she finished the best

"But I would settle for a week like this after winning four matches against good players and I've shown myself I can get back into the top 10 again - this time maybe even better than before."

In the doubles final Kuznetsova and fellow Russian, Elena Likhovtseva lost out 6-4 6-4 to Alicia Molik from Australia and Spain's Magui Serna
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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 02:42 PM   #7
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Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 18 year old talent from St. Petersburg, Russia, introduced herself to the tennis world at the US-Open girls competition in 2001 where she won the title, and it seems like she liked the feeling of getting cups. Only one year later, still only 16, she won 2 WTA-trophies! And though neither Helsinki nor Bali are the most famous tournaments she beat players like Patty Schnyder, Sucha, Chladkova, Krasnoroutskaya, Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez on her way to those titles!

If that start of her career should remind some of you to the start of Jelenas career, her game doesnt at all. Svetlanas first serve is alright, but her second serve reminds the spectators more to a throw in at football as to a serve in tennis. And also her weapons are different to Jelenas. In fact: beside her savety on court, and the abiltiy to run down shots and bounce everything back which comes across the net, she has no weapons at all.

And it was exactly those abilities, where both Schiavone and Majoli found no proper way to play against, and so the russian no6 proceeded to the second rounds of Dubai and Doha at early stages this year. But reaching second rounds is certainly not the career-target of Svetlana. At Indian Wells she beat the top-russian player Anastassia Myskina in 3 tough sets to reach for the first time in her career a third round of a tierI tournament, and only one week later at the Nasdaq 100 Open, she had the honour to play the worlds most talented player for the first time in her career and lost to Jelena 6-7 and 1-6 :-)

The european clay court season was not Svetlanas, but at Wimbledon she stormed into the quarterfinal where she only lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne, and it was Justine again, who stopped her next run at the Accura Classics, where the 1.74 meters tall girl reached the semis!


Svetlana Krznetsova already reached position no 26 in the WTA ranking system, and it seems that only Top 10 players are able to beat her on fast courts, as the list of the girls who beat her on either hard or grasscourts in 2003 sounds like a list of the "who is who" in womens tennis: V. Williams (Australian Open), Capriati (Dubai), Justine Henin (twice) and Jelena....

Lets hope i can fit that word in brackets behind Justine Henin, behind Jelenas name in my next preview, too :-)

Last i found a funny fact which could give us some hope: It looks like if Svetlana looses to a player she doesnt do it only once! She is 0-18 (!!!!) in junior matches to Maria Arkhipova, who is also 18 years old, but nowdays not even ranked in the WTA :-)
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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 02:49 PM   #8
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Svetlana Kuznetsova

Thursday June 17, 2004
The Guardian


Nationality: Russian
Age: 18
Lives: Moscow
Height: 5ft 8in
Weight: 11st 7lb
Turned pro: 2000
Tournaments won: 2 (0 grand slams)
Wimbledons: 1 since 2003
Best performance: Quarter-finalist 2003
Career prize money: £726,049
World ranking: 10


Baselines

View from the locker room
"Kuzi" is quite the comedienne behind the scenes, keeping her fellow Russian players amused between episodes of Countdown. Her mentor is that other noted stand-up, Martina Navratilova.


Bet you didn't know ...
Has more cycling genes in her blood than the dodgiest Tour de France rider. Dad Alexander coached five Olympic champions; mum Galina was a six-time world champion; and brother Nikolay won silver at the 1996 Olympics. But they were all rubbish at tennis.


On court

Wimbledon wiz or wuss?
Made last year's quarter-finals despite it being her first summer on grass. Attacking, thumping tennis was ideal for the surface, although she could not quite get the hang of making daisy chains.


Annoying tic
Penchant for wearing baseball caps low over her face and stomping along the baseline with chin firmly on chest makes her look as if she's on the run from Interpol.


In form or in tatters
Has proved her impressive debut season with the grown-ups was no fluke by reaching three finals and not once being sent to bed without her supper.


McEnroe moments
Runs around too much to throw wobblies - powered by a pair of legs of which Mark Hughes (or even Navratilova) would be proud.


Off court

Love game
Too busy working her way up the rankings to have a love life so, as yet, no one has tried to get under Sveta's sveta.


Home hero?
Cannot compete with the likes of Maria Sharapova in the glamour stakes, hence the time-honoured move into comedy.


Private passion
Er, Lleyton Hewitt. She is apparently a great admirer of his grit, determination and fight. Any thoughts, Kim?


Championship points

Expert prediction
Good outside bet but pressure of being seeded may see her run out of legs in the fourth round.


Don't rule out ...
Skipton Working Men's Club proudly presenting for your delectation the comic stylings of Svetlana Kuznetsova: adults only, no refunds.
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Old Jul 10th, 2004, 02:52 PM   #9
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How difficult was it to find courts to play on when you first started playing tennis?
Courts to find are easy if you have money. Free courts, you cannot find there. It's not like maybe here. I don't know how it works here but there you are always paying. You have to pay for everything. When I go to my city I pay for everything; club, courts, ball, coach, practice partner ... everything.

Does your federation help you out? Do they have a facility where you can practice?
No. My father, he pays for me for everything. The Russian Federation did send us here to play the team competition. I think it is very good that we came one week ago to practice before the tournament. So we have been here ... our team; boys and girls. We were together all the time so now we are like brothers and sisters and we are really good now. We played and won both titles so it was very good. They paid for us and will pay hospitality for Orange Bowl for me.

Growing up, your father helped you along. Did he start you in tennis?
All my family are cyclists. My father still coaches. My mother she was a very good cyclist. My brother was also good but he stopped now. He is 29 and has a family and works with my father. My father said, "go play tennis, just go, go somewhere but not bike".....I said, "OK." When I was young I did cycle. I was racing twice or three times in my life. I was only six years old.

Your father supported your tennis?
He's a very good coach! It is similar, the strategy of the sport. He is helping, sometimes you can't find the way where you have to go. He tells me how much I have to practice. My mom helps all the time with me. I've been changing coaches so much. My mother, she knows very good about sports and everything. She's won 6 championships of the World in sprint in track. She will say, "this coach doesn't want to work." She doesn't like this thing. We were changing, changing, changing and now we finally found a place.

You found a coach you are happy with?
It's not a coach. I'm practicing at a club. It's Emilio Sanchez, in Barcelona Spain. I am staying now in Spain all the time.

Are you traveling a lot?
Yes I do. I've been everywhere this year. Australia, Japan, Brazil ... everywhere.

Did your Mom travel a lot?
My mother did the same thing before when I did not have a private coach. I still don't have it. Before I went to the club, she was traveling with me. She was helping instead of coach. She understands tennis. She knows what she is speaking about and was helping me, but sometimes children do not listen to the parents.

Any other brothers and sisters?
Just one brother, Nikolai. He was also very good in cycling. He was in Atlanta 1996. They got the silver, second place. My father was the coach of them.

So, why is your father good at coaching bicycling and tennis?
My father, he is very good in strategy. You can see the results every time. He has coached 5 Olympic champions. I think that is good result.

How is tennis in Russia now. Is it very difficult for the players?

I think there is a lot of talent and a lot of girls that are very good but every one stop because of money.

1999 world number one, Lena Krasnoroutskaia is from Russia. Do you know her?

When I started to play I saw her. She was number one (juniors). After, when I was grow, I didn't see her because she was playing WTA. Now I saw her in Wimbledon and we met. I said "hi, how ya doing," and now we know each other.

Do you know of any young players that are coming up in Russia? How about Maria Kirilenko and Dasha Chemarda?
Dasha is younger then me by one year and Maria two years. I didn't see her play and Maria I didn't see for three years. I know she has coach and sponsor so she should be OK. Now it will be up to her. In Russia there are a lot of players that are good that do not have sponsors. There are a lot of young young people that are doing very well. Coaches are getting crazy. They are starting to practice unbelievable times and breaking the players.. Some practice 8 hours a day at 11 years old. 8 hours in the day ... it's impossible.

How much practice did you do growing up?

I have not been practicing a lot. Now, just doing a lot in club. 6, 4, 5 hours, it depends on how I am feeling. If I am down, no one will push me. Everyone trust me that I know what to do. If I feel good, I practice more. I remember when I was young, I was with a coach, for about two years and we were in practice with 4 people on one court. Four people on one court for one hour. The court was indoors in a small place and the mountain climbers also used this area to practice. They would climb over the roof as we practiced!

Are there any tennis camps in Russia.
There are some but not big.

Where are you going from here?

Next year I will play as many pros as I can, but you know they are limited.

Will you be playing junior Grand Slams?
I don't know, I would like to play Roland Garros but if there is another tournament on at the same time, I will play that.
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 08:40 PM   #10
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Russia’s Kuznetsova outlasts Martinez to win Bali WTA title

BALI (Indonesia): Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova won her second title in two months when she outlasted eighth-seeded Conchita Martinez 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 in the final of the Wismilak International on Sunday.

The win will catapult the 17-year-old, ranked 264 at the beginning of the year and needing a wild card to enter the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open, into the world's top 50 next week for the first time.

Martinez, who was playing in her first final since the 2000 French Open, claimed the opening set of the two-hour, 43-minute marathon by breaking to lead 5-3 and then holding off a break point in the next game. A disappointed Kuznetsova then dropped her serve to fall behind 1-0 in the second set, but she levelled at 2-2 when Martinez netted a weak backhand and then went on to win the tie-break.

In a dramatic final set, Kuznetsova chose to serve and volley much more than she had in the opening two sets. She broke for 1-0, but Martinez levelled at 2-2. The Russian, who won the Helsinki event in August as a qualifier, then broke to take a 4-3 lead, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4. Kuznetsova held four match points before Martinez eventually levelled with her third break point, but Martinez then dropped her serve again after leading 40-0. Kuznetsova didn't waste her second opportunity.

Kuznetsova is coached by Emilio Sanchez and also works with his sister, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

They are close friends, and at the awards ceremony Kuznetsova dedicated her title to her semi-final opponent Sanchez-Vicario, saying it was she who deserved to win because she had taught her so much. "The match was very, very tough for me mentally," said the 2001 ITF World Junior Champion. "It was a different situation to Helsinki when I won my first WTA title. I wasn't nervous there at all. But here it was very difficult because having to beat Arantxa yesterday was the most difficult day of my life, and so I felt obligated to win today. "That's why I couldn't play my good game at all. When you're so nervous you cannot do anything. I just tried to hit my good forehand and tried to make her move because she doesn't do that well. So I'm not happy with the way I played but I'm happy that I won."

Despite the disappointment of her defeat, Martinez could take some consolation from having come so close to winning her first title since the German Open in May 2000. "Something changed when I was up a set and 2-0. I didn't play as aggressive as I should have," said Martinez. "I had so many chances too in the tiebreak, but the match was tight and it went her way. "Right now, when you lose a match like that of course it's disappointing, but it's good to be in the final and to fight for a title. I felt like I played pretty good the whole week and it was a close final." —AFP
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 08:54 PM   #11
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Svetlana Kuznetsova arrived in the lounge, sweaty and distraught—she was late for an appointment. She hugged a carrying case in which sat an immaculately groomed Yorkshire terrier with a tiny blue ribbon in its hair. "I had problems with Patrick," she said. "Patrick is Dementieva's dog. Dementieva had to practice. But they wouldn't let Dementieva take the dog on court, so Dementieva ask me please, please take Patrick. So I had to find a basket, to hide him in, and I had trouble, such trouble, getting him into the lounge."

Kuznetsova had won qualifying matches to get into the draw. "I started tennis when I was six—everybody in Russia starts tennis at six or seven," she said. "I was born in Leningrad, that is again now St. Petersburg. Now I live in Barcelona, where weather is warm, where my family came when I was twelve. I was coached for a few years by Marat Safin's mother, but now I am coached by Emilio Sanchez, who is brother of Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, my best friend." She picked up the dog and began murmuring to him in Russian.
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Old Jul 15th, 2004, 10:33 AM   #12
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Women's tour reads like a Tolstoy novel



By Jerry Magee
STAFF WRITER

June 15, 2004


GABRIEL BOUYS / Getty Images
Svetlana Kuznetsova (above) played French Open winner Anastasia Myskina better than anyone at Roland Garros. Behold the Russian women's tennis player. She is as slender as a ballerina. Fit Anastasia Myskina, Nadia Petrova, Maria Sharapova, Elena Bovina and Dinara Safina with ballet shoes and they wouldn't be misplaced in "Swan Lake."

Then there's Svetlana Kuznetsova. A powerhouse, clearly, at 5-foot-8 and 161 pounds. She looks as if she could do a day's work with a shovel if need be.

Not that she doesn't do pretty well with a tennis racket, and at 18 – she won't be 19 until June 27 – she is bound to do a great deal better if strength and the ability to move quickly mean anything in tennis, which they do.

Kuznetsova was on the telephone from Eastbourne, England, yesterday as a means of heralding, first, Wimbledon, which begins Monday, and the Acura Classic, beginning July 14 at the La Costa Resort & Spa. The Acura folks have attracted all the ranking Russian women to their $1.3 million get-together, which is a coup for them, Russia being very big at the moment in women's tennis.

At a recent count, six of the 15 top-ranked players and 11 of the leading 50 on the WTA Tour were Russians, with French Open winner Myskina holding the highest place among them at No. 3 after becoming the first woman from her country to claim a Grand Slam championship.

She did it delicately, as it were. There is nothing forceful in Myskina's game. Her ground strokes are not that piercing, nor is her serve. She might seem to be an heir to Martina Hingis, who got along very well with tactical expertise approaching a genius level until a foot injury interrupted her career.


WARREN LITTLE / Getty Images
At 17, 6-foot Maria Sharapova is making a lot of fans forget about fellow Russian Anna Kournikova.
"Might seem," we said. Kuznetsova said the games of Myskina and Hingis are not at all alike. "She didn't run," Svetlana said of Hingis. "She was like Andre Agassi."

Her point was that in Agassi's matches, it is the other guy who has to do much of the running.

To Kuznetsova, what Myskina has is a lot of fight. "She just fights very much," Kuznetsova said, "and she never gives you an easy game. She runs. And she's clever, you know."

Kuznetsova's assets are more robust. She might not be able to lift a building, but she looks as if she could. With her strength, she could be the most nimble of the Russians.

"Maybe," she said.

A modest sort, Kuznetsova, now ranked No. 9. Also a dedicated individual. She has chosen to make her base not in her place of birth, St. Petersburg, but in Barcelona, Spain, where the climate is more conducive to playing tennis than it is in the place associated with the czars. She acknowledged she misses her homeland.

"But if I want to be something in my life, I have to do something," she explained. "I can be No. 1, I think."

A large statement by a player who has yet to break through in a WTA Tour singles event, but listen to Kuznetsova and one gets the feeling her ambitions are realistic.

"I want to improve my speed, my game, everything," she said. "I'm looking for perfection in everything. It's like I am in competition with myself."

But for one point, it might have been Kuznetsova being acclaimed in Paris rather than Myskina. In her match against Myskina, Kuznetsova, serving, held match point. "But I was rushing too much," she said. She failed on a ground stroke and Myskina was able to complete a 1-6, 6-4, 8-6 conquest. From there, Myskina went on to her straight-set decimation of Elena Dementieva (also due at La Costa) in the final.

This will be only the second appearance in Wimbledon's main draw for Kuznetsova. In her first a year ago, she was among a record five Russian women who gained the fourth round (Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Myskina and the stylish Sharapova being the others).

Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, the tour's ranking player, stopped Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-2.

Kuznetsova's effort suggested her game fits nicely on grass, but she said she doesn't regard grass as her preferred surface. "Not really," she said. "I think I can play anywhere."

Myskina has chosen not to compete in the Wimbledon prelude at Eastbourne. Her rationale: "Winning a Grand Slam event takes a lot out of you."

Whether Martina Navratilova will determine to play singles at Wimbledon is still uncertain, a WTA Tour spokesman said yesterday. Navratilova indicated she would accept a wild card into the main draw in southwest London, but losing to Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-2 in an Eastbourne qualifying match has left the game's grand dame, a nine-time Wimbledon champion, with second thoughts.

When Navratilova began her return to tennis, she chose Kuznetsova as her doubles partner. A wise choice. According to Svetlana, it was Navratilova who severed their association.

"She wanted to play with an American (Lisa Raymond) in order to get ready for the Olympics," said Kuznetsova, who plans to partner with Likhovtseva in Athens. One thing about the Russians: None of them has won a tournament in California. They will be out to change this at La Costa. They're coming, and they're coming in numbers.
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Old Jul 29th, 2004, 11:58 AM   #13
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Russian hits skids in good way

By Jerry Magee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 29, 2004

CARLSBAD – The skid marks Svetlana Kuznetsova was leaving yesterday were long enough to have gotten her arrested. And she wasn't in an automobile.

When the Russian woman would move wide for a shot and slide during her 6-1, 6-2 second-round ouster of Daniela Hantuchova, she would scar the stadium court at La Costa Resort and Spa. One of the skid marks she created was at least two feet long.

This is one strong-legged person, and she hasn't had to work at it. She is from a family of cyclists. Her father, Alexandr, has coached five Olympic and world cycling champions. Her mother, Galina Tsareva, has won six world championships. Her brother, Nikolai, was a silver medalist in cycling at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

For cycling, Kuznetsova clearly has good genes. For tennis, too. Tennis strokes have their basis in the legs, particularly the serve. Kuznetsova, predictably, serves well.

"I kind of pull myself into the court," she said, "and I can jump. I have powerful muscles. I think my bones are bigger, you know."

One other thing: Kuznetsova can run, and fast.

The No. 7 seed, Kuznetsova has to be considered a championship factor in this $1.3 million event. Although she wouldn't have had to be at her best to get past an ill Hantuchova, she said she is playing well. She also won't have to oppose Justine Henin-Hardenne, the WTA Tour's ranking player. Henin-Hardenne is not here.

In her first six tournaments this season, Kuznetsova had to engage Henin-Hardenne four times. Kuznetsova won at Doha; the Belgian woman won at the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells.

In the third round, Kuznetsova must go against her countrywoman and friend, Vera Zvonareva. They've played each other twice, once on clay and once on grass, with Zvonareva winning each time. Now they are to get together on a hardcourt.

"I'm pretty sure that when we go off the court, we will still be friends," said Kuznetsova. "The winner is going to be the one (who) plays better."

Most of the Russian players are loath to express opinions. Not Kuznetsova, who can leave some verbal skid marks as well as the other kind. To make this point, she said she expects Anastasia Myskina to outplay Maria Sharapova should they meet here, which is likely.

"She (Myskina) has much more experience, even more game, you know," said Kuznetsova. "Maybe not on grass courts; maybe she lose because of the speed."

Kuznetsova noted that Myskina, wanting to defend her status as the highest ranking Russian (No. 5), makes her strongest efforts when she is matched against other Russians.

"She just doesn't let you go," said Kuznetsova. "I know how tough it is to beat her. She knows when to play and how to play."
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 04:59 PM   #14
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Battling Kuznetsova Wins First Grass Court Title
19th June 2004 - Report by Rob Eyton-Jones




Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova battled back from the brink of defeat to win her first ever grass court title at the Hastings Direct International Championships at Eastbourne today.

The second seed was at one stage two points from defeat when wild card Daniela Hantuchova served for the match in the second set. But Kuznetsova came from behind to win 2-6 7-6 6-4.

"It is another great result for Russian tennis," said Kuznetsova, who will turn 19 on the first Sunday of the Wimbledon fortnight where she was a quarter-finalist on her debut last year and is seeded eight this time.

"But I must stop giving opponents a set start because that makes it much more difficult.

"I got frustrated because I made too many simple mistakes to begin with. I find it hard to get into matches sometimes and I was playing a much-improved player today.

"I hit with her at the start of the week but all I could do in the final was stay in there with her and hope my game came together. Happily it did. Now everyone wants to know how I will play at Wimbledon. I can't say I am going to win it but I'm one of many who could."

Hantuchova won the first set in just 30 minutes and she missed an opportunity to wrap up the match at 6-5 in the second.

"I had the match in my hands but didn't do anything about it," she said. "In the end I was just trying to make her play as many balls as possible because her serve was better controlled than mine in the wind and she finished the best

"But I would settle for a week like this after winning four matches against good players and I've shown myself I can get back into the top 10 again - this time maybe even better than before."

In the doubles final Kuznetsova and fellow Russian, Elena Likhovtseva lost out 6-4 6-4 to Alicia Molik from Australia and Spain's Magui Serna
I was afraid that Sveta was slumping after Eastbourne. Now she's rolling again.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:08 PM   #15
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Kuznetsova reaches final



Dementieva stuns Capriati
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Svetlana Kuznetsova beat an injured Lindsay Davenport to reach the women's final at the US Open.

The American fifth seed showed her experience against the nervous Russian in the first set, breaking three times to win it 6-1 in just 21 minutes.

But Kuznetsova, seeded nine, broke early in the second and, showing greater confidence, levelled the match.

Davenport needed treatment on her left leg but after going 2-0 up, Kuznetsova broke back twice to win 1-6 6-2 6-4.

The 19-year-old is the first Russian to reach the US Open final and she said: "I don't really believe it.

"Lindsay played so well in the first set and I was just trying to hang in there. I will be ready for tomorrow night."

It would be tough to walk away knowing I can win another Grand Slam


Lindsay Davenport

Davenport admitted it was a hard defeat to take after she came into the match on the back of 22 consecutive wins.

"I am disappointed because I had a great opportunity and I was playing so well," said Davenport.

"It is easier to take if I lose because she's playing great. And she was playing great, it is just that I was at a disadvantage.

"I tried to keep the points shorter and go for the bigger shots. I was really playing well and I wanted to continue it."

Davenport's defeat means Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo will be the new world number one when the rankings are released on Monday, replacing Justine Henin-Hardenne at the top. But Davenport hinted that her recent good form means retirement plans may be shelved. "It would be tough to walk away knowing I can win another Grand Slam," she said.
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