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Doha Preview

By J.M.

Anastasia Myskina, the current Russian number 1, has had a fantastic start to the year, despite her early round loss in Sydney to Elena Bovina, also of Russia, in straight sets. She did not play bad at all in that match but was simply being outplayed by her big-hitting opponent and if the second set had reached a tiebreaker, she may have even won the match. Nonetheless, her form as a top 15 player shone when at the Australian Open, she reached her 1st grand slam quarter-final before losing in two tough sets to Kim Clijsters, 6-2 6-4.

After taking a couple of weeks off to recoup, Myskina now heads for the Qatar Total FinaElf Open, Doha. As the number 2 seed here, she is expected to make the final and her draw certainly suggests this! As she only has quarterfinal points to defend from last year, a solid semi-final or even final appearance will certainly edge her on towards the top 10 and give her a chance to capitalise on lost points.

THE DRAW:

2nd round possible opponents:

  1. Mary Pierce: two grand slam time champion who is on the comeback trail after being sidelined for a relatively long period due to injury. She would be a very tough second round opponent if successful in the 1st round. However, her lack of fitness will be advantageous for Myskina to win the match in straight sets. HEAD-TO-HEAD: Myskina d. Pierce 6-4 3-6 7-6 (4) Sarasota, April 2002.
  1. Anca Barna: young German who has shown she definitely has the ability to deal with the big hitters in the game by stretching Serena Williams to three sets on a couple of occasions. I think she will prove too much for Pierce in the opening round and will therefore play Myskina. HEAD-TO-HEAD: Myskina d. Barna 2-6 6-1 7-5 Rome (Qual) 2001.

QF:

Anastasia could play man people in the QF but it is highly likely she will play the up-and-coming Russian player, Svetlana Kuznetsova. They have not played each other before but the similarity in their style of play with their low, penetrating shots should provide an interesting match up. Dinara Safina is another possibility.

SF:

Possible Opponents:

  1. Tamarine Tanasugarn: fresh off her title from India last week and defending finalist, she will be a force to be reckoned with. However, unforced errors and the difficulty with her serve that she sometimes has could mean an easy match for Myskina if both players were to progress to this stage of the draw.
  1. Nicole Pratt: recently had her best grand slam appearance in Melbourne where she made the 4th round; inconsistent backhand is her main fault, though she is known to rundown almost every ball insight! HEAD-TO-HEAD: Myskina d. Pratt 6-3 7-5, Birmingham, 2002.

Final:

Monica Seles, a finalist in Tokyo two weeks ago and number 1 seed, realistically should make it to the final, although she could be upset by the following players: Conchita Martinez, Magdalena Maleeva, Lina Krasnoroutskaya and Iroda Tulyaganova. Considering she is still recovering from an ankle injury, Seles may indeed fall victim early…

PREDICTIONS:

2nd round: Myskina d. Barna 6-2 6-4

QF: Myskina d. Kuznetsova 2-6 6-4 6-4

SF: Myskina d. Tanasugarn 4-6 6-2 6-3

F: Seles d. Myskina 6-4 2-6 6-1

Good Luck and enjoy the tennis Anastasia!

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