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Ladies Kremlin Cup

Venus to Headline Kremlin Cup
The Moscow Times
By Sam Thorne


For tennis fans in Moscow, the last week of September has come to mean one thing: Kremlin Cup time.

The lineup for Russia's top annual sporting event, which starts Saturday, is stronger than ever this year, particularly in the women's tournament, where five of the world's top 10 players, including Venus Williams -- a high-profile absentee last year -- will be fighting it out for the $166,000 first prize. In the men's tournament, which is often overshadowed by the more prestigious women's event, the focus will be on Russian stars Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who is gunning for a sixth consecutive Kremlin Cup title.

Williams, who pulled out of last year's event because of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, is joined in the women's draw by fellow American and world No. 3 Jennifer Capriati, defending champion and world No. 5 Jelena Dokic from Yugoslavia, No. 6 Amelie Mauresmo of France and Swiss No. 10 Martina Hingis, who won the tournament in 2000.

The international brigade will be challenged by a talented local contingent, including world No. 12 Anastasia Myskina, No. 15 Yelena Dementieva, who lost to Dokic in the final last year, No. 20 Tatiana Panova and the up-and-coming Yelena Bovina, 19, who was handed a wildcard entry after winning her second tournament of the year in Quebec last week. Anna Kournikova, however, has missed out on a wildcard because of her lowly ranking this year and will almost certainly not play in the tournament, to the chagrin of her predominantly male fan club.

Locals will be expecting great things of Safin and Kafelnikov, who are fresh from winning Russia a place in the Davis Cup final, but they will have to overcome much sterner competition than last year if one of them is to carry off the $137,000 winner's check. Notable challengers include French Open champion Alberto Costa of Spain, who is ranked No. 5 in the ATP Champions Race, No. 8 Tommy Haas of Germany, No. 10 Roger Federer from Switzerland and Sweden's Thomas Johansson, who beat Safin in the final of the Australian Open in January.

Given the abundance of world-class players on display, tennis lovers will be relieved that talk last year of loaning the Kremlin Cup to China to ease the tournament's financial problems seems to have come to nothing.

"Interest from the Chinese side is not that big anymore," Shamil Tarpishchev, chairman of the tournament's board of directors, was quoted by Kommersant as saying this week. "The Chinese already have a slightly more prestigious tournament Å in Shanghai, which cost them $7 million," he said.

Tarpishchev added that Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov -- like former President Boris Yeltsin, a devotee of the 12-year-old Kremlin Cup -- had told him he would do everything possible to keep the event in Russia and that in the future there shouldn't be any special problems with financing. The Kommersant report did not elaborate.

Qualifying rounds for the Kremlin Cup begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Olimpiisky Sports Complex on Prospekt Mira (Metro Prospekt Mira) and conclude Sunday. The main tournament runs Monday to Oct. 6 at the same venue. Ticket prices range from 10 rubles for a regular ticket for qualifying matches up to $900 for a VIP ticket to the finals. Tickets can be bought on the door or by calling 956-3360. Regular updates will be posted in English on the tournament web site, www.kremlincup.ru.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Women's Look Forward: Moscow, Japan Open

From the Bob Larson's Tennis News


Jelena Dokic, this is your last warning. Snap out of it, or else.

Dokic has been massively over-ranked all year, the result of playing more events than any other Top Ten player. This week, it's likely to come home to roost. Dokic is the Moscow champion, but she has not been playing like a player capable of winning a Tier I.

Especially a Tier I expected to be notably tougher than in the past. Last year, Dokic earned a mere 339 points for winning Moscow. This year, she will either do a lot better -- or she won't defend.

How much tougher is Moscow than in years past? Well, how about this: Barbara Schett was a finalist in Moscow in 1999. This year, she's playing in qualifying. And she lost. First round. And there are so many strong Russians hanging around the draw that one of their top prospects, Vera Zvonareva, didn't get a wildcard; she had to play qualifying. And Svetlana Kuznetsova had to play the Japan Open.

Or look at it this way: In 2001, Moscow had four Top Ten players: #1 Martina Hingis, #6 Amelie Mauresmo, #8 Justine Henin, and #10 Nathalie Tauziat. This year, there are five: Venus Williams, defending champion Dokic, Mauresmo, Lindsay Davenport, and 2000 champion Hingis. Jennifer Capriati was supposed to play, but has withdrawn, leaving a gap (Lindsay Davenport is the #3 seed but in the #2 seed's position, and Mauresmo is #5 seed but in the #3 seed's position). Anastasia Myskina is the #7 seed, and Silvia Farina Elia is #8, meaning that local favorite Elena Dementieva would have been unseeded had Capriati not withdrawn, and Anna Kournikova and Elena Bovina needed wildcards.

Clearly, after years of being the weak little sister of the other eight Tier I events, Moscow has arrived.

It is, of course, a very Russian draw -- though Elena Likhovtseva finds herself blocked from playing, and she couldn't play qualifying because she was at Leipzig. (Talk about a scheduling mess!) Still, the locals are represented by #7 seed Myskina (last year's semifinalist), #9 Dementieva (last year's finalist), Tatiana Panova, wildcard Dinara Safina, Nadia Petrova, Kournikova, and Bovina.

In addition, there are quite a few solid unseeded players: Magdalena Maleeva, a champion back before this was a Tier I and now looking to get her Top Twenty ranking back; Elena Daniilidou, also looking to hit the Top Twenty; Nathalie Dechy; Meghann Shaughnessy; Ann Kremer; Amanda Coetzer; Iva Majoli; Anna Smashnova. Not here is former champion Mary Pierce, who probably couldn't get a wildcard into this field.

Great matches are everywhere. Marching down the draw:

First Round

Maleeva vs. Smashnova. Given that this is indoors, Maleeva should trounce the tiny Israeli. But Maleeva has been having a lot of trouble lately.

Daniilidou vs. Dechy. Daniilidou might need only one win to hit the Top Twenty. But Dechy probably is more comfortable indoors.

Shaughnessy vs. (7) Myskina. Myskina won their match at Leipzig. But Shaughnessy had a lot more rest, and she seems at last to be in form again.

Kremer vs. Panova. Panova is Russian. Kremer is a bit taller and likes indoors better. A tough match to predict.

Safina vs. (8) Farina Elia. Farina Elia made the semifinal last year. She has about twelve times Safina's experience. But Safina is Russian, and strong, and Farina Elia prefers slower courts.

Hingis vs. Petrova. Two players coming back from long injury. Petrova at last showed some life last week. Hingis is probably rusty. Can Petrova work an upset? It's a crummy draw for both players. Perhaps especially for Hingis, since she'll have to play doubles partner Kournikova in the second round.

(9) Dementieva vs. Majoli. Dementieva is struggling. Majoli is inconsistent. Dementieva is Russian. Majoli has had better indoor results in her career. And Majoli has won tournaments. Strange match....

Second Round

(1) V. Williams vs. Maleeva. Don't forget that Maleeva beat Venus last year indoors (though not here).

Daniilidou vs. (7) Myskina. A rematch of the Bahia final. This time, Daniilidou won't be suffering heat exhaustion. Will it make a difference?

(6) Hingis vs. Kournikova. Please, don't bring flowers. Cameras, yes, but not flowers.

Coetzer vs. (3) Dokic. Coetzer hates indoors. But Dokic is way off this year. And it's easy to get into her head.

(9) Dementieva vs. Bovina. Two young Russians. Bovina should eat Dementieva's serve for lunch. Will that be enough?

Thoughts on the overall draw: Lindsay Davenport reached #1 last year by being effectively perfect indoors. Hers is clearly the easiest quarter, now that Mauresmo is out of it (though Dementieva has beaten her in the past). She should at least reach the semifinal. But, of course, the big points are beyond that. Still, Davenport is hungry -- and due.

Theoretically, Venus too should reach the semifinal. But her heart doesn't seem to be in the game just now, given her withdrawal from Zurich and her failure to play doubles with Serena lately. Will that matter?

Hingis could face a quarterfinal rematch with Dokic. That could bring fireworks. It will also be interesting to see how she and Kournikova react to playing each other. When they met in the 2000 singles final here, it caused Kournikova to fall apart in the doubles final. Also, this is the first tournament Hingis has played in which she's been fully healthy. Will that make a difference?

Amelie Mauresmo has been coming into her own on faster surfaces. Can she earn her second Tier I title of the year?

Looking at the Japan Open draw makes us think of the Asian hardcourt season as a sort of a marathon with runners gradually dropping out. First was the Princess Cup, which was weak for a Tier II. Then Bali, which was weaker. Now Tokyo, which overall is weaker still. It's added one significant player -- Ai Sugiyama, Japan's #1 and the only Top 20 player in the field. The next two seeds are the top two from Bali: Tamarine Tanasugarn and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. But Clarisa Fernandez, Nicole Pratt, Adriana Serra Zanetti, and Conchita Martinez are all elsewhere, meaning that Emmanuelle Gagliardi and Cara Black, #7 and #6 at Bali, are here the #4 and #5 seeds. Three players unseeded at Bali -- Virginia Ruano Pascual, Svetlana Kuznetsova (who, admittedly, has been rising fast and should have been seeded at Bali) and Jelena Kostanic -- round out the seeds.

If this tournament were held somewhere else, it wouldn't attract much attention. But in Japan, the field is rather attractive: In addition to Sugiyama, who should qualify as the favorite, there are six Japanese in the main draw: Akiko Morigami, Shinobu Asagoe, Yuka Yoshida, Saori Obata, Miho Saeki, and Rika Fujiwara. And -- all the better for the Japanese fans -- none of them will meet in the first round, and the only pair that can meet in the second are Sugiyama and Morigami. Admittedly none of the Japanese, except perhaps Asagoe who was on the edge of the Top Fifty a couple of years ago, constitutes a major threat. But then, few in this draw do. Kuznetsova is a youngster with promise. Black just won her first singles title at Big Island. Tanasugarn has been Top 20 this year, though she's slipped. Sanchez-Vicario is Sanchez-Vicario, but she's also slumping badly. Other than that, the top threat in the draw may be Maria Sharapova, the much-praised (and much-stared-at) but little-tested young Russian.

Put it another way: There are only four Top Fifty players in the draw (Sugiyama, Tanasugarn, Sanchez-Vicario, and Kuznetsova, and Kuznetsova just broke into the Top Fifty at Bali), and #8 seed Kostanic was ranked #76 last week, and of the 26 players with direct entry, 12 were ranked below #100 on that last ranking list, though Sarah Taylor and Saori Obata and perhaps some others have moved up since. In such a draw, we can't predict the results; we can't even say which matches will be good.

A few matches are interesting for other reasons. One is the contest between Kelly Liggan and Rika Fujiwara. Liggan has managed to qualify for three straight events -- the best run of her career. This time, she got direct entry (though we're not sure how). Can she get that first WTA win?

Maria Sharapova has a win this year; she beat Brie Rippner at Indian Wells before losing to Monica Seles. But that's it. Here, she'll have a much easier field, though she starts against #4 seed Gagliardi. Can she make an impression?

Shinobu Asagoe looked like a really hot property starting 2001, and then fell apart. She's slowly pulling things together. She plays another coming-back-from-disaster player, Silvija Talaja, on a court perhaps better suited to her game. Can she finally really rediscover her form?

And, of course, just how good is #6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who now has two titles this year?

The Rankings. It looks like it's going to be another quiet week in this department. Once again, there will be no change in the players in the Top Ten. We had thought Martina Hingis would be under threat by now, and indeed she would have been had Daniela Hantuchova played Moscow. But because Hantuchova lost in the Leipzig quarterfinal, and isn't playing Moscow, Hingis is safe at #10 for at least one more week, even if she loses first round.

And there won't be any changes at the top; Serena Williams is guaranteed the #1 ranking, Venus Williams is #2, and Jennifer Capriati #3.

There is some interest below that, though. Monica Seles is the Japan Open champion, and she isn't defending -- and that means that she will fall at least behind Justine Henin. Jelena Dokic, at #5, has still more to defend; she needs to reach at least the semifinal, and probably the final, to stay ahead of Henin and Seles and Amelie Mauresmo. And Lindsay Davenport, with nothing to defend, is also in the mix. The way things stand now, every position from #4 to #10 is up for grabs. If we did all this right, Henin, Mauresmo, Dokic, or Davenport could be #4; Henin, Mauresmo, Dokic, Davenport, or Seles could be #5 or #6 or #7; Dokic, Davenport, Mauresmo, or Martina Hingis could be #8, Hingis or Davenport or Kim Clijsters could be #9, and Hingis or Clijsters could be #10. Whew!

Below that, things get more stable. Daniela Hantuchova will stay #11, Anastasia Myskina is pretty safe (though not quite guaranteed, since she has a tone of points to defend) at #12; Chanda Rubin will be #13, Silvia Farina Elia is probably going to remain #14; Sandrine Testud, despite being retired, should stay at #15. The biggest move among players ranked #11-#20 will probably be posted by Elena Dementieva, currently #16 but with finalist points, and points for a win over then-#1 Martina Hingis, to defend. An early loss could leave her just barely clinging to the Top Twenty.

Other players with a lot to defend include Barbara Schett -- who has already lost, and will be falling out of the Top 40; Daja Bedanova, who isn't playing and risks falling out of the Top 30; Francesca Schiavone, who also sees her Top 40 status under threat (though Schett's fall will probably save her), Tamarine Tanasugarn, who risks falling out of the Top 30 if she does poorly in Japan, and Alexandra Stevenson, who is barely top 30 anyway and isn't defending her points.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Kremlin Cup - Moscow, RUS) Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Venus Williams pose with Moscow's biggest tennis fan, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday, October 3

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ESPN.com news services

MOSCOW -- Top-seeded Venus Williams, playing her first match since losing in the U.S. Open final to sister Serena, was beaten 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 by unseeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria at the Kremlin Cup on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Williams, ranked second in the world behind her sister, was playing her first match in Moscow since 1997 after getting a bye into the second round.

"I didn't play for a few weeks and I'm really tired," she said. "(Maleeva) played really well at the right points and I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn't my best playing against her. It was really difficult."

Williams fired 13 aces but also committed eight double faults and 45 unforced errors in a 98-minute match.

Maleeva, who had beaten Williams in two of their four previous meetings, said she was confident going into the match.

"Statistics are not that important, but I knew I could beat her," said Maleeva, ranked 23rd in the world. "I have beaten her before and I knew I have a chance against her if I played well. I also knew that she didn't play for some time and that the first match is always difficult."

After winning the first set 6-2, Williams' powerful service game just fell apart. She was broken twice in losing the second set 6-1 in only 23 minutes.

In the third, Williams lost her serve again in the third game, but got the break back in the sixth as the two went into a tiebreaker with Maleeva prevailing 7-3.

"Yes, she made a lot of mistakes in the second set but I think we both played well in the third," Maleeva said. "I think it was really good tennis in the third set."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Maleeva Upsets Venus At Kremlin Cup


Maleeva Upsets Venus At Kremlin Cup

By Richard Pagliaro
10/03/2002

Magdalena Maleeva spends her spare time reading books on astronomy. The 27-year-old Bulgarian didn't have to consult the stars to create a total eclipse of Venus today. Playing with poise and purpose, Maleeva toppled top-seeded Venus Williams 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in a second-round triumph at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.


It was Williams' first match since she suffered a 6-4, 6-3 setback to younger sister Serena in the final of the U.S. Open last month. Playing in Moscow for the first time since 1997, Williams lacked her standard sharpness and succumbed to Maleeva's consistency and her own sloppy play in committing eight double faults and 45 unforced errors.

"I didn't play for a few weeks and I'm really tired," Williams said. "She played really well at the right points and I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn't my best playing against her. It was really difficult."

Cruising capably through the first set, Williams appeared to be in complete command of the match when she suddenly lost the range on her serve in the second set. Pulling her serving arm close to her body rather than extending up and out toward the ball, several of Williams serves found the net as she was broken twice in surrendering the second set in 23 minutes.

The players exchanged breaks in the decisive set then held into the tiebreak, which Maleeva won, 7-3.

The unseeded Maleeva was unfazed by the prospect of facing the two-time U.S. Open champion and carried the confidence of her past success against Williams — the pair split their four previous meetings — into the match.

"Statistics are not that important, but I knew I could beat her," Maleeva said. "I have beaten her before and I knew I have a chance against her if I played well. I also knew that she didn't play for some time and that the first match is always difficult."

The 23rd-ranked Maleeva meets France's Nathalie Dechy in the quarterfinals. Dechy continued her dominance of Meghann Shaughnessy with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the American in her second-round match.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Venus makes Moscow exit


Williams last played in the US Open final


Thursday's results
Top seed Venus Williams crashed out of the Kremlin Cup after a shock second-round defeat to Magdalena Maleeva on Thursday.

The world number two, who had a first round bye, succumbed 2-6 6-1 7-6 to the 27-year-old Bulgarian, ranked 17 in the world.

Williams twice broke Maleeva's serve to take the first set but thereafter looked tired on her return to the circuit after three weeks off.

Venus was playing her first match since losing to younger sister Serena in the final of the US Open last month.


Right now I think I need to be away and do other things in my life

Maleeva, twice champion in Moscow in 1994 and 95, broke Williams in the second and fifth games of the second set to level the match.

In the decider, Maleeva went 3-1 up only for Williams to level at 3-3 before both players held their serves to force a tiebreak.

But the world number two produced an eighth double fault of the match at 2-2 to hand the initiative to Maleeva, who won the next three points before taking it 7-3.

"You know, I didn't play for three weeks and I'm really tired," said a disappointed Williams.

"She (Maleeva) played really well, she played good at the right points.

"I made a lot of mistakes, and playing against her I wasn't playing my best."

Break

Williams, who beat Maleeva in straight sets at the US Open, will skip all the remaining events before the season-ending WTA Championships in Los Angeles from 6-11 November.

"I want another break," she added. "It's nice to be at home. It's quite difficult to play all year.

"There is not a moment you can be away from tennis. Right now I think it's my problem that I need to be away and do other things in my life."

Elsewhere in the second round on Thursday, third seed Lindsay Davenport marked her Kremlin Cup debut with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Spanish qualifier Magiu Serna.

But Anna Kournikova was forced to withdraw from her match against fellow Russian Nadia Petrova after spraining an ankle during a doubles match on Wednesday.

Medical checks revealed a partial rupture of her left ankle ligament.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 2002, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot during her second-round match against Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria at the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament in Moscow's Olympic Indoor stadium on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2002. Maleeva won 6-2, 1-6, 6-7

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