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Sveta's Three Sister Act

The 2009 French Open champion has called in 2004 champion Anastasia Myskina to help her do it again.

Published May 28, 2011 02:41

Sveta's Three Sister Act
Larisa Neiland, Anastasia Myskina, Svetlana Kuznetsova

PARIS, France - Never afraid to say what she thinks, Svetlana Kuznetsova was in fine form after her third round defeat of Rebecca Marino at the French Open on Friday. The main topic of conversation was the 25-year-old's new working arrangement with Anastasia Myskina, who defeated Elena Dementieva in the first all-Russian Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in 2004, having edged Kuznetsova in the round of 16.

Specifically, the quirky two-time Grand Slam champion wanted to set the record straight following reports that former world No.2 Myskina, who played her last WTA match exactly four years ago, was to be her new coach - usurping former doubles No.1 Larisa Savchenko.

"The thing is, I said Anastasia was going to help me, and I see in the press everywhere Myskina is the new coach. It's not like this," said the No.13 seed. "I mean, I know you guys [can find it] boring in the press. You have to sell newspapers. Probably you don't have big stories, so that's why you put this. She got scared, poor girl. I mean, come on. She just helps us, Larisa and me!"

"She got scared and quit?" a reporter prodded.

"No, she never quits," the player replied. "Never. Even when I had match points against her at the French Open in 2004. She never quitted then, I don't think she will quit now. She's good friends with Larisa. She wanted to come to Paris. She makes us company and good atmosphere.

"But my coach is Larisa."

Kuznetsova was equally clear about what Myskina brings to the table tennis-wise: "I respected her as a player before, and as a personality. She can explain things. She knew exactly how to play tactically and was very smart on the court, so I think I can learn from her.

"And she can tell me what to do when I am, for example, back in Moscow. This is where I have been struggling, because Larisa is not there. I don't want to practice alone… Anastasia can do good exercises and follow up with me."

The good-natured ribbing of the media continued: "So when Larisa won't be with me, I think Anastasia will be… if I make it clear? And whenever Anastasia can come and she would like to come, she's coming. Anastasia wouldn't be able to coach me all the time, and I like Larisa too much to let her go."

That settled, Kuznetsova was also asked how she viewed her prospects this fortnight, especially in light of all the upsets of the first week, and the fact that fellow Russian Maria Sharapova and defending champion Francesca Schiavone are the only other Grand Slam winners left in the field.

"Well, I think I'm playing all right," she said. "I've had a few matches and I'm feeling good, confident. But now the more complicated matches will start, so I just have to focus and play better.

"No, I don't consider myself a favorite," she added. "I think anyone can win, with maybe five or six players having a better chance. I consider myself just a player who is good on clay courts and who is looking forward to playing her next match and doing my best."

During her playing career, Latvian standout Neiland (née Savchenko) won two WTA singles titles and 66 doubles titles, including the French Open in 1989 and Wimbledon in 1991 (which was the first Wimbledon title ever won by a Soviet player). For her part, Myskina won 10 WTA singles titles from 19 finals, going down in history as the first Russian woman to win a major. But she was troubled by foot injuries; as well as turning to commentating, she is now mother to two small boys.

"I do the baby sitting for her and she coaches me for me," smiled Kuznetsova, who faces No.28 seed Daniela Hantuchova, conqueror of Caroline Wozniacki, in the fourth round on Sunday.

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