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Kuznetsova Falls To McHale, Keeps Chin Up

Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her opener in New Haven but is hopeful with New York on the horizon.

Published August 22, 2011 12:00

Kuznetsova Falls To McHale, Keeps Chin Up
Svetlana Kuznetsova

NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - As if a victory over the No.1 player in the world in Cincinnati a week ago wasn't enough, Christina McHale continued to prove she is one of America's brightest future stars at the New Haven Open at Yale on Monday night, ousting No.6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round.

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McHale, who beat Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets five days ago at the Western & Southern Open, brought her A-game to the New Haven Open at Yale as well. Kuznetsova, a former No.2, was strong early on, building a 4-2 first set lead, but the 19-year-old McHale kicked into high gear, winning five of the next six games to grab a one set lead then comfortably closing it out, 75 63.

Wins by retirement not included, McHale now has three Top 20 wins, all this year - Kuznetsova at Indian Wells and here, and Wozniacki at Cincinnati.

Kuznetsova lost her opening match for the sixth time at a WTA event this year and the second time this summer - it also happened in Toronto two weeks ago.

"I actually felt I was playing well and moving all right. I just couldn't finish the points off," Kuznetsova said. "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."

Although her preparation hasn't been ideal - her best result of the summer hardcourt season was a third round showing in Cincinnati last week, where she suffered a routine 62 63 loss to Maria Sharapova - Kuznetsova remained optimistic she can get her game in gear in time for Grand Slam competition.

"I couldn't play in San Diego because I was injured, and it changed everything," she said. "But I've been playing and practicing and I hope I can bring it when I really need it next week. And now that I have no more matches here, I can work on things more. I'll just go there and practice and get ready for the US Open."

Kuznetsova won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2004, her other one coming at the French Open in 2009. She has reached two other Grand Slam finals - the French Open in 2006 and the US Open in 2007 (losing to the now-retired Justine Henin in straight sets on both occasions).

And on McHale, against whom she is now 0-2 lifetime, and 0-4 in sets? "I had my chances here, and I had my chances in Indian Wells, but she plays such a stable game," Kuznetsova added. "She's playing so stable and confident, and she has talent. She's still young and playing without pressure."

McHale plays her second round on Tuesday against Carla Suárez Navarro.

See the encore of Tennis Week on Wheel Of Fortune starting August 29.

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