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Durban - Anna Kournikova, the glamour girl of world tennis, fought back bravely to draw first blood against South African No 1 Amanda Coetzer in the MTN Challenge with a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6) victory at Durban's Westridge Stadium on Friday.

In a tense set-piece encounter before a crowd of about 3 000 Coetzer was up 5-2 in the third set and galloping for the post after winning the first set 6-4 and conceding the second 3-6.

The South African was 0-40 up when she let the Russian off the hook and Kournikova fought back to deuce then bravely saved set point.

From that point on she came at Coetzer with finely placed shots and a patient approach to break serve in the ninth game, before serving for 5-5.

With Coetzer now struggling to find rhythm, Kournikova broke the South African's service twice in the tie-break and her 8-6 win brings her score of wins against Coetzer to three. The South African has beaten her seven times.

Friday's match was played in fine and dry conditions after rain had washed out play on Thursday night.

The pair meet in the second round of the Challenge in Stellenbosch at 3pm Saturday, then travel to Johannesburg for the final encounter at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday (1.30pm).
 

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Well done Anna <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

now I hope she can beat her in Real matches as well

good win Anya !!!!!!
 

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Is this for real or is it a joke? It must be a joke. No way Coetzer would come from 5-2 in the third to end up losing a match. Against Anna? No way. Unless the organisers gave Coetzer 2 million $$ to tank the match and she forgot all about it until she was up 5-2 in the third and then went like, oops!, I'm supposed to be losing this. Right?
 

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are all these matches being played on hardcourt?
 

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great win for Anna, it seems that she's back in the good form <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 

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While this is a good win for Anna, I wouldn't get too enthusiastic about it. Anna has always played well in exhibition matches. Generally, she has full crowd support and there is no pressure on her at all. Therefore, Anna is able to play with ease. I remember an exhibition match Anna played against Davenport in Baltimore at the end of the 99 season. She played brilliantly against Davenport without a trace of nervousness and won in three sets beating Lindsay 6-1 in the third set. I was convinced that she would win the Gold Coast a few weeks later. Instead she lost in three sets to Talaja in the quarterfinals. Anna does not play well with the pressure on her. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that Anna won, but she really needs to learn to deal with pressure situations before she can really break through with a win. It will be interesting to see what she can do in New Zealand in a couple of weeks.

Good luck to Anna and Amanda over the next few days.
 

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well done ANYA... every win now is a good foundation for 2002............. Go girl!
 
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go anna!!!!!! sounds like it would have been fantastic to watch. <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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WOW!!!! Go Anna!!! I hope Mandy wins the 3rd one though. Both matches were VERY close!!!

This looks like a good sign for both players as they are both so well known for their amazing competitiveness!!!! Impressive especially that Anna's consistency is so good!!! Go Girl!!!
 

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Well done Anna lets get back into the top 50 SOON!
 
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