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January 12, 2002

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (TICKER) -- No player is entering the Australian Open hotter than Anna Smashnova.

Smashnova won her second straight tournament, battling her way past top seed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, 7-5, 7-6 (7-2), in the final of the $110,000 Canberra Women's Classic on Saturday (Friday night in the United States).

It was the fourth career title for Smashnova, an Israel native ranked 69th in the world. She is unseeded in the first Grand Slam of the year and faces Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia in the first round.

"My goal this year was to play my best tennis and I am very happy with my start to the year," said Smashnova, who earned $16,000.

Last week, Smashnova upended Anna Kournikova in the semifinals and Tatiana Panova in the final of the ASB Bank Classic at New Zealand.

"It's hard to compare wins because they are all very valuable to me," Smashnova said. "I have worked very hard and these results mean a lot to me."

There are two days until the start of the Australian Open, and Smashnova could use the rest.

"In the second set, I was starting to get some cramps so I was glad that it didn't go to three," she said. "I had to do a lot of running today, but every point, I wanted to win."

Tanasugarn was denied her first career WTA title. She is the 25th seed in the Australian Open and will face Selima Sfar of Tunisia in the first round. She could meet Smashnova again in the third round.

"I am disappointed not to win but I am playing well and I am looking forward to Melbourne," Tanasugarn said. "Today even though I lost, I learned some lessons. I would have loved to win but I am not too disappointed. I will use what I have learned today to help me improve."

Smashnova beat Australian qualifier Amanda Grahame, 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals. Tanasugarn defeated unseeded Lilia Osterloh of the United States, 6-4, 6-4, to reach her third career final.
 
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