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Kuznetsova becomes McHale’s latest scalp

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Originally published on: 23/08/11 10:26

With the hours ticking away until the start of the US Open, the great and the good of the ATP and WTA Tours continued their final preparations on the hard courts of Winston-Salem and New Haven yesterday, with mixed results.

In New Haven, 2004 US Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova became the latest high profile victim of American talent Christina McHale. The 19-year-old New Jersey native had defeated world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati last week, and inflicted a sixth opening round defeat of the season on the Russian.

“She’s playing so stable and confident too, and she has talent,” said Kuznetsova of her young victor. “She is playing without pressure. She’s still going up and she’s young.”

As for her own form, the Russian added. “I played well in the first set but without playing a lot of matches recently, the confidence of finishing points off and closing games and sets out wasn’t there. I played well today, I just couldn’t finish it.”

At the ATP event in Winston-Salem, Marcos Baghdatis – sporting a dramatic buzz cut – appeared lighter on court in the absence of his trademark mop, winning five of five break points in a comprehensive 7-5 6-1 victory over American Ryan Sweeting. The win snapped a three-match losing streak for the 26-year-old Cypriot, a run mirrored by Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who fell to his third straight loss in defeat to Igor Andreev.

Lleyton Hewitt, who only earned a wildcard into the main draw at the US Open last week, saw his hopes for a good run at Flushing Meadows crushed after he squandered a 4-1 advantage in the second set to fall to Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic 6-4 7-6(3) and promtly pulled out of the final slam of the year with an ongoing foot injury.

Kei Nishikori, who became the first Japanese player to reach the fourth round of the US Open in 2008 when he defeated David Ferrer in five sets, survived a barrage of 26 aces from Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller to edge through 1-6 6-4 7-6(5) in two hours and 12 minutes. Meanwhile Ryan Harrison, who made the semi-finals in Atlanta and Los Angeles, continued his good form on home hard courts by beating Victor Hanescu 1-6 6-3 6-4.

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