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Eastbourne: Hantuchova heals rift with coach
June 16 2003
By Mike Donovan
This is Eastbourne

Daniela Hantuchova laughed and joked with her Lewes coach Nigel Sears after an intensive two-hour practice in the sunshine at Devonshire Park.

The rift between them, when Sears walked out after her French Open second round defeat against unknown Ashley Harkleroad in Paris, has seemingly healed.

Sears was fed up with the attitude she showed on court and Hantuchova admits the experience was a wake-up call.

"I was not playing well. I have to learn not do the same thing again and then try and forget about it.

"I really love working with Nigel. It has been two really good years and he has helped me a lot in many ways. I'm really thankful I've got him."

Sears said: "Our working relationship is fine. I really enjoy working with her. She comes out every day and gives her best just like when we started."

He stands by his actions at Roland Garros. "I felt it was the right thing to do at the time. I'd probably do it again if I had to. Hopefully I won't. She has responding after her disappointment.

"Whatever happened in Paris was dealt with and we've moved on."

Now Hantuchova wants to improve on her run to the semi-finals at Eastbourne last year, even though there is a strong field including Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport and reigning champion Chanda Rubin.

She said: "It is a very strong field but I am hopeful that I can win this time."

Hantuchova, who beat Martina Navratilova last year, knows Capriati is a big threat. She said: "I've played her twice and it has gone to three sets. In one of the games I was 4-1 up and had a big chance but I've improved since then."

Hantuchova reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year and it took eventual champion Serena Williams to stop her.

But she hopes Eastbourne this week will again provide her with a platform for another tilt at the most coveted title in ladies' tennis.

She is impressed with the condition of the courts and the sunshine.

She said: "I brought the sunshine with me! It is a great preparation, especially when the weather is like this.

"Eastbourne is a really great place. I have a nice hotel by the sea and I like the town."

It has been a solid year for Hantuchova. She has reached seven quarter-finals and one semi-final after bursting on the scene in 2002.

This has been despite concern about her lack of weight, although Sears makes light of the matter by joking he bulked her up with fish and chips at one of Eastbourne's finest seafood restaurants.

But the 20-year-old 5ft 11in top-tenner is confident those problems are behind her.

She said: "I've proved that with my last couple of results that have been three set matches. Physically I'm OK, I'm very fit, I feel sharp. I have lost a bit of weight but it's not a problem for me to get it back. I was burning more calories than I was putting on but, in a way, I think I'm lucky because I can eat whatever I want!"

Sears feels her weight problems are under control He said: "The Press have blown it out of all proportion. It's not nearly as bad as they are making out. We both know that she needs to put on a little more weight.

"She loves food and can eat what she wants. it's just that she hadn't eaten enough but we're heading in the right direction."

Hantuchova, from Slovakia, is one of a host of young players to burst on to the tour from eastern Europe.

She said: I just wanted to do something that I enjoyed doing and as long as it's fun for me I'll carry on. It was nothing to do with making money.

"Motivation for tennis is something I have always had. I just want to enjoy every game and then we'll see what happens."

Sears is looking for another breakthrough for Hantuchova at the Hastings Direct Line Championships this week He said: "Daniela has been solid this year but I'm looking for something special and will keep knocking on the door until that comes. She's certainly giving it her best shot."


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She has beautiful strokes. I think she'll gain the proper weight back again and kick American Anna.
 

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The unknown Ashley Harkleroad.
In the United States, Ashley is the player people have heard of.
Hantuchova is only known to tennis fanatics, she has no U.S. name recognition.
 

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I'm so current, I'm tomorrow.
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"I brought the sunshine with me."

Great attitude! Hopefully she gets back to her winning ways soon.
 

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goldenlox said:
The unknown Ashley Harkleroad.
In the United States, Ashley is the player people have heard of.
Hantuchova is only known to tennis fanatics, she has no U.S. name recognition.
Actually, I, as an American, have come across many a non-tennis-obsessor-person who has indeed heard of Hantuchova. It shocks me. I know more people who know her as opposed to Harkleroad or Clijsters even, and I repeat, these are people who don't follow tennis.

Anyhoo, Dani seems like she has really recognized her problems and has nothing to be in denial and pessimistic about. She has nowhere else to go but up.
 

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Mike Francesa cohosts the biggest sports talk show in New York. He was at the U.S. Open on day 1 with Chris Russo.
Russo read the names of the women seeds. Francesa never heard of Hantuchova, and he brags about reading 5 sports sections every day.
 

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goldenlox said:
Mike Francesa cohosts the biggest sports talk show in New York. He was at the U.S. Open on day 1 with Chris Russo.
Russo read the names of the women seeds. Francesa never heard of Hantuchova, and he brags about reading 5 sports sections every day.
If he's only reading American papers, well then, of course he wouldn't know Hantuchova, or any other Eastern Europeans for that matter.
 
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