Defending champ Kuznetsova Stunned in Opener at US Open

Posted on August 30, 2005

Svetlana Kuznetsova found out that defending a Slam title can be a "bych," with the No. 5 seed and defending US Open champion making a first-round 6-3, 6-2 exit Monday to fellow Russian Ekaterina Bychkova.

"I was ready, but I wasn't at my best," said Kuznetsova, whose confidence was flagging even before suffering a back injury a couple weeks ago. "Now nobody will disturb me about this. Nobody will say nothing to me. I'll just relax and take some time off, I guess, and just prepare for the next events."

Otherwise known as the "Pete Sampras circa 1991"-way of dealing with the slam pressure.

Showing no signs of her recent pectoral muscle injury, top-seeded Maria Sharpova spanked Greece's Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-1 to advance.

"I haven't played a lot of matches, so I'm just trying to get used to the conditions, the stadium, the wind, playing under the lights for the first time in a while," Sharapova said. "When you're out for a little while, first match you're a little tentative. The injury, you don't know how it's going to be. So far it's OK."

Other seeded winners Monday were (4) Kim Clijsters (d. (Q) Muller 1-and-2), (8) Serena Williams (d. (Q) Chan), (9) Nadia Petrova (d. Birnerova), (10) Venus Williams (d. Fujiwara), (18) Ana Ivanovich (d. Lee-Waters), (20) Daniela Hantuchova (d. Pin), (25) Francesca Schiavone (d. Kostanic), (26) Nicole Vaidisova (d. Peschke), (30) Ai Sugiyama (d. A.Bondarenko from a set down), and (33) Vera Douchevina (d. (Q) Dabek).

"I'm feeling really good," Serena said, falling behind 1-3 to the 16-year-old Chan before pulling it out. "I'm just I'm not feeling too much pain out there at all...I didn't get tired at all, I think I just started out flat. Maybe I was thinking about something else. I just was really flat. I knew it. I was like, 'Serena, get more pep in your step.' Once you got down, I just got a little more footwork. I was just flat for some reason."

Say "flat" more.

Serena wore $40,000 chandelier earrings during the match, but took them off during the first set when troubles arose.

"Well, one fell, and so I didn't put it on tight enough because I was rushing to go out," Serena said. "So I was hoping it wouldn't fall, but I knew in the back of my mind it would, and it did. I was like, 'Okay, I'll just put them on earlier in my next match.'"

Four other seeds made exits Monday at the hands of American wildcard Shenay Perry (d. the back-from-illness (14) Molik), Italian Maria Camerin (d. (21) Safina in three), American Laura Granville (d. (22) Farina Elia), and German Julia Schruff (d. (28) Pennetta in three).

Three qualifiers orchestrated upsets to move into the second round in Croatian Ivana Lisjak (d. Loit from a set down), Argentina's Maria Emilia Salerni (d. (WC) Kirkland 7-6 in the third), and Fin Emma Laine (d. Peng from a set down). Where has China's Peng gone?

Apparently when Kim Clijsters tags you as a future Top 10 player, the crushing weight of expectations can be hard to bear.

Among the remaining torrent of unseeded players into the second round were Colombia's Catalina Castano (d. Jidkova) and Fabiola Zuluaga (d. (WC) Harkleroad who retired down 0-9 with respiratory problems), American Lisa Raymond (d. (Q) Kremer in three), Israel's Shahar Peer (d. Domachowska), Czech Michaela Pastikova (d. Grande in three), France's Marion Bartoli (d. Strycova, bagel in the second), Madagascar's Dally Randriantefy (d. (WC) Gambale), Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi (d. Mamic from a set down), Japan's Aiko Nakamura (d. Irvin), Russian Maria Kirilenko (d. Pous Tio), India's darling Sania Mirza (d. Washington in three), China's Jie Zheng (d. Benesova 6-0 in the third), and Aussie Nicole Pratt (d. Morigami who retired in the third with injury).

On tap Tuesday at the US Open are (7) Henin-Hardenne vs. Ondraskova, Li vs. (2) Davenport, Vinci vs. (3) Mauresmo, (6) Dementieva vs. the Forest Hills winner Safarova, Sesil "The Mouth" Karatantcheva vs. Shaughnessy, Santangelo vs. (12) Pierce, Garbin vs. (19) Likhovtseva, Diaz-Oliva vs. Mattek, Ruano Pascual vs. (23) Golovin, Sanchez Lorenzo vs. Haynes, Martinez vs. (11) Schnyder, (15) Dechy vs. Beltrame in an all-French, Klara "Kouky" Koukalova vs. King, Razzano vs. Spears, Llagostera Vives vs. Linetskaya, Kutuzova vs. (29) Chakvetadze, (13) Myskina vs. Tanasugarn, Craybas vs. Jamea "Action" Jackson in an all-American, (24) Asagoe vs. Cohen-Aloro, (31) Groenefeld vs. Brandi, Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier vs. Gullickson in an all-American, Antonella Serra "Nevada" Zanetti vs. Parmentier, Gagliardi vs. Maleeva, Sun vs. Stosur, Smashnova vs. Kloesel, Sucha vs. Bammer, Foretz vs. (27) Dulko, Srebotnik vs. Hsieh, (17) Jankovic vs. Chladkova, Cho vs. Parra Santonja, Fedak vs. Glatch, and (32) Anabel "Funky Cold" Medina Garrigues vs. Karolina "The Spreminator" Sprem.