Armchair ride for Kuznetsova into quarters

Updated: 26 January 2009 12:05 IST

Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova had an armchair ride into the Oz Open quarters when China's Zheng Jie retired injured from their fourth round match

Armchair ride for Kuznetsova into quarters

Melbourne:

Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova had an armchair ride into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday when China's Zheng Jie retired injured from their fourth round match.

Zheng, seeded 22, had her left wrist strapped early in the first set and was unable to continue a short time later, with Kuznetsova leading 4-1.

The walkover win means 2004 US Open champion Kuznetsova will meet second seed Serena Williams in the quarter-finals. The Russian said she felt in control of the match before Zheng pulled out but had sympathy for her opponent, who she has defeated in both of their previous meetings.

"I felt sorry for her because she was in great shape," the Monte Carlo-based 23-year-old said. "She was playing good. This pain I hope is not very dangerous."

Kuznetsova's appearance in the last eight equals her best performance at the Australian Open in 2005.

She was undaunted at the prospect of facing three-time Australian champion Williams, who is the bookies' favourite for this year's title.

"I don't think there is huge space between players in the top eight or top 10," she said. "I think everybody can win, it depends on the day.

"I'm just going to go out there and just play my same game."

Kuznetsova has been unable to repeat her 2004 Grand Slam success at Flushing Meadows and has received little attention negotiating the early rounds at Melbourne Park.

Bookies regard her as a 17-1 outside shot for the title in a quarter-final field weakened by a string of upset results, with even unseeded Spanish debutant Carla Suarez Navarro rated higher at 15-1.

Kuznetsova said she had confidence in her game and was unfazed if people did not regard her as a contender.

"I don't care about publicity at all," she said. "I'm just going to play and focus on my game, I'm fine with that and I'm getting better and better."

Zheng's injury ended her strongest run yet at the season-opening Grand Slam, where she had fallen in the first round in her previous four appearances.

She was bitterly disappointed at having to withdraw but said the pain in her wrist meant her two-handed backhand could not handle the power Kuznetsova put into her strokes.

"I hoped to win this match, it's so bad I'm injured," she said.



Topics : Tennis
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