(June 18) 38th ranked Rita Grande defeated Anna Kournikova today 6(4)-7, 6-3, 6-1 in the 1st round of singles at the Eastbourne "Wimbledon warmup" grass court tournament (draw, .pdf). This was Anna's 10th loss in the past 13 matches, and she is 16-17 for this season. However, she did make it to 3 semifinals earlier in the year. Anna said: "I'm practicing well but it's not working for me right now... I'm just going to have to play through it. I think it's confidence... There are lots of things I need to think about."
2002 Wimbledon, June 24-July 7
(June 24) 23rd-ranked Tatiana Panova defeated Anna Kournikova today 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in the 1st round of The Championships at Wimbledon (results -- draw). Anna played aggressively, hitting 30 winners to Panova's 17, and serving as fast as 104 MPH. But she had 53 unforced errors (to Panova's 19), 23 of them in the in the 1st set, where she had 3 break points she could not convert and lost 1-6 (match statistics). Anna said: "I didn't really expect to do very well in this tournament because obviously I'm not playing very well in the last two months or so... So I was pretty surprised by how well it went and at the end I just couldn't finish it... I think it was a great match, there were some fun points and I just went out to try to enjoy myself and have a good time. That was my goal and I did it" (full post-match interview text -- post-match interview on Real Video)|
(June 25) The news today is full of exaggerated reports that Anna Kournikova became upset and argumentative at a BBC2-TV interview after her loss yesterday (not the official post match interview). If you watch the BBC interview excerpt on Real Video you can see that talk of Anna "throwing a tantrum" is media hype. It is clear from all of her post-match interviews that Anna finds it difficult to deal with reporters who ask questions that contain innuendos about how she feels or what she should be doing, or questions that are just fishing vaguely for a story. Anna appears confident that she is doing all she can about her current slump, and resents questions that lead to stories that indicate otherwise, with titles like Grumpy Kournikova 'in denial', from reporters whose editors want any kind of "controversial" Kournikova story that might increase readership.
(June 26) Anna Kournikova and her new partner Chanda Rubin will play the Spanish duo of Eva Bes and Marta Marrero in the 1st round of doubles at Wimbledon Thursday. This match will be the 3rd of the day on Court 13, with the 1st match starting at 12 Noon local time (4 AM PDT, 7 AM EDT) (doubles draw).
Chanda Rubin has been playing well, defeating Anastasia Myskina 6-1, 6-3 to win the Eastbourne tournament this past Saturday. Chanda's singles ranking rose from 37th to 27th with that win. At Wimbledon, Chanda has reached the 3rd round of singles, where she will play Tatiana Panova (who defeated Anna on Monday). At doubles, Anna is currently ranked 13th, and Chanda is ranked 64th. Their opponents rankings are 68th (Marrero) and 86th (Bes).
Today's news continues to be loaded with stories about Anna Kournikova's BBC2-TV interview on Monday. Raquel Martin, director of media relations at the WTA, said: "It was a major set-up. If it was live I would have understood, but it was a pre-recorded interview and Anna had every right in the world to ask for the question to be rephrased. I thought it was unfair... We have spoken to the BBC and asked them to be a bit more sensitive when they are interviewing after matches."
AP reports say that Anna "snapped" at the interviewer, and other reports say she responded "angrily". But if you view the clip on Real Video, you can see that she did neither, and quietly requested that the question be rephrased, even laughing a bit. The press continues to print negative comments from John McEnroe, Virginia Wade, and Pam Shriver, and respected commentator Bud Collins has weighed in on the subject. But perhaps Anna is doing all she can, and will recover her game with time, as Monica Seles remarked: "Anna is definitely going through a difficult period. I think she'll get through it. She's a very strong personality... She had a tough injury... But I've seen she's practicing really hard. She's out there many hours hitting the ball. She has a great coach in Harold [Solomon]. I think she has the right ingredients. Hopefully that will pay off for her."
(June 27) Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin defeated Eva Bes and Marta Marrero 6-1, 6-1 in the 1st round of doubles at Wimbledon today. Anna said: "I think we did great for a second match [2nd time as partners]. I think that we complement each other well. And Chanda, you know, sets up the points well and I can finish them off." Chanda said: "...we, you know, got it clicking fairly early but it got better as the match went on. That's all you hope for in doubles, is that you keep giving your partner the chance, and you can kind of see what they like to do and you can see what they like to do." (full post-match interview) Anna is ranked 13th at doubles, and Chanda 64th. They will play the 7th seeds, Liezel Huber (doubles rank: 15th) and Nicole Arendt (18th) in the 2nd round, not on Friday, probably on Saturday.
Anna is playing mixed doubles (she hasn't for some time), and she and her partner Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden are seeded 7th. They will play Marius Barnard and Kristie Boogert Friday in the 4th match at Court 2 (the 1st match is at Noon local, 4 AM PDT, 7 AM EDT).
Concerning her BBC2-TV interview, when asked if she was "still angry", Anna said: "Well, I wasn't angry, you know. It's not like I'm still angry, because I wasn't angry." Asked her opinion about Anna, Chris Evert said: "I think everyone is coming down pretty hard on her and I know she is working really hard with her new coach."
(June 28) 7th seeds Anna Kournikova and Jonas Bjorkman (of Sweden) defeated Marius Barnard and Kristie Boogert today 6-3, 6(5)-7, 6-4 in the 1st round of mixed doubles at Wimbledon (match statistics). Anna and Jonas will play Todd Woodbridge and Martina Navratilova in the 2nd round, probably on Tuesday (mixed doubles draw).
In other action, Chanda Rubin defeated Tatiana Panova (who defeated Anna on Monday) in the 3rd round of singles. Chanda will face 2nd-seed Serena Williams in the round of 16, the 2nd match on Centre Court on Monday.
Asked about Anna's chances of getting back to the top 10, Chanda said: "Well, she was already Top 10, so obviously, you know, she has the game for it. And she's still one of the most talented players out here - and people tend to forget that. You know, you never know how someone is going to progress and what road they're going to take, especially after being injured. I know that firsthand. But the talent is there. I don't think anybody would deny that." Anna was ranked #8 at the beginning of 2001, before her stress fracture. Chanda is a former top 10 player herself, ranked #6 in April, 1996.
(June 29) Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin defeated 7th seeds Nicole Arendt and Liezel Huber 6-4, 7-5 today in the 2nd round of doubles at Wimbledon (match statistics).
(June 30) Story: Anna responds to critics
(July 2) Despite rain delays, Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin defeated 11th seeds Janet Lee and Wynne Prakusya today, 6-2, 6-2 in the 3rd round of doubles at Wimbledon (match statistics). Lee and Prakusya, who had beaten Anna and Chanda the 1st time they teamed together (at Eastbourne last week), were decisively defeated by Anna's crisp volleys and Chanda's blistering return of serves. Anna and Chanda will play the #1 doubles team, Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, in a quarterfinal, on Thursday or Friday (doubles draw). (July 3) In a match delayed and interrupted by rain, Anna Kournikova and Jonas Bjorkman (7th seeds), defeated Todd Woodbridge and Martina Navratilova in the 2nd round of mixed doubles 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 today at Wimbledon. Anna served the final game of the match, and finished with a service winner followed by a final ace ( match statistics).
Asked about Anna, Martina Navratilova said: "...I think she's been very serious about trying to become a better tennis player. I believe the results will come. ...I didn't really get going till I was 25. But I think she can do better and get into the Top 20, for sure, and hopefully better." Martina also remarked: "It was a match played in good spirits by all four players... a fair play kind of a match, kind of the match that I love to play." (Navratilova and Woodbridge interview: text and Real Video)
(July 6) 3rd seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Elena Likhovtseva defeated 7th seeds Anna Kournikova and Jonas Bjorkman 6-4, 6-2 in a mixed doubles quarterfinal today at Wimbledon (match statistics -- mixed doubles draw). This match brought Anna's 2002 Wimbledon to a close, having reached the semifinals in doubles as well as the quarterfinals in mixed doubles, a fine performance for a lady who has been so maligned by the press recently. Anna and Jonas defeated Andrew Kratzmann and Trudi Musgrave in the 3rd round Thursday 7-5, 6-4 (match statistics).
Earlier Saturday, 3rd seeds Serena and Venus Williams defeated unseeded Anna and Chanda Rubin 6(3)-7, 6-0, 6-3 in a doubles semifinal. Anna and Chanda won the 41 minute 1st set in a tiebreaker, but dropped the 2nd set in just 20 minutes. They took the 3rd set to 3-3 before the Williams sisters won the last 3 games (match statistics). Serena defeated Venus in the singles final earlier today.
Anna and Chanda defeated #1 seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs on Thursday 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a quarterfinal (match statistics).
(July 7) Serena and Venus Williams defeated 2nd seeds Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez in the doubles final Sunday (doubles draw). Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge won the men's doubles final over Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor. And Lleyton Hewitt defeated David Nalbandian in the men's singles final (results).
(July 8) Anna Kournikova earned $47,022 in prize money for the 10 matches in 3 events she played in at Wimbledon, putting her at #17 on the year-to-date winnings list. Last week at an interview session with a small group of English tennis writers, Anna pointed out how she was being used in the press. Regarding news headlines from interviews, Anna said: "People don't get to read the Q&A, they get to read only the answer. And it becomes a headline, 'Anna: I'm not cocky enough to be a winner'. That's why you try to phrase things carefully, because you never know how they're going to get used." Anna now has 2 weeks "off", preparing with coach Harold Solomon for her next tournament, the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, July 22-28. Solomon said: "We're practicing six hours a day. She's a trouper."
(July 9) Anna Kournikova will be the subject of the ESPN-TV program SportsCentury tonight at 10 PM EDT, 7 PM PDT (check your local listings). The show lasts 30 minutes, and Nick Bolletieri, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, and Bud Collins, are among those saying their piece about Anna. Set your VCRs now.
(July 24) Anna Kournikova defeated #18 Anna Smashnova last night 6-3, 6-2 in the 1st round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Anna said: "Everything just really worked for me...After losing so many matches in a row, I learned from them. I really felt comfortable. I really felt confident with my strokes." Anna also gave credit to her coach Harold Solomon, saying: "We've been working a lot with the basics and putting my game together." Anna will play #92 Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia in the 2nd round on Thursday at 3 PM PT (6 PM ET).
This tournament includes six of the top ten players: Venus Williams, Monica Seles, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Jelena Dokic, and Lindsay Davenport (returning from a long injury recovery).
On Wednesday Anna and 1st-time doubles partner Meghann Shaughnessy (#31 at doubles, #19 at singles), seeded 3rd, were scheduled to play unseeded (!) Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters in the 1st round. But Henin suffered a painful hand injury while in an upset loss to Marissa Irvin yesterday, and after her match Justine said: "I'm going to get an X-ray to make sure that nothing's broken. It could be a bone or a ligament as it was very sore." Unfortunately the injury turned out to be a small fracture of Justine's left ring finger. Justine and Kim had to withdraw, so Anna and Meghann defeated their replacements Jill Craybas and Sarah Taylor this afternoon instead, 6-4, 6-0. Justine hopes to recover in time for the WTA event in Montreal, August 12th.
(July 26) Anna Kournikova defeated Wynne Prakusya 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday afternoon in the 2nd round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. The almost hour long 1st set featured long rallies and inconsistent play. Anna said: "After winning my first match, it was important for me to play well. I stepped back with my tactics. I wasn't really aggressive... [Prakusya is] very quick, she keeps the ball really low. I definitely mixed it up." Anna will play 2nd-ranked Venus Williams in a quarterfinal at 7:30 PM PT tonight (10:30 ET). Anna, who is 0-7 vs Venus for her career, said: "She's playing amazing tennis, but I have nothing to lose so I'll go out and try to stay on the court as long as I can." About Anna, Venus said: "I have a lot of respect for her as an athlete more than anything. She moves well and improvises, but has had her fair share of bad luck."
In startling ignorance of proper scheduling, Anna and Meghann Shaughnessy will play Amy Frazier & Abigail Spears in the 2nd round of doubles at 9:00 PM PT tonight, immediately after Anna's singles match, leaving her little or no time to rest (doubles draw). Anna's recent doubles partner Chanda Rubin is not playing at this tournament.
(July 28) 2nd-ranked Venus Williams defeated Anna Kournikova 6-3, 6-4 Friday night in a quarterfinal of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California (draw). Williams serve reached 116 MPH, but Anna broke Venus and took a lead in both sets before Venus broke back. Anna said: "I was trying to play smart, because obviously I can't overpower her, even though some times today, I thought I did... We both played well, and we had some great rallies. I had more chances in the second set, but she just came out and served well. I think I was pretty close... I felt like I was actually in control of some of the points, so that's a great step for me. It wasn't close because she was making errors. Actually, I really loved it out there." Venus is playing Kim Clijsters in the final Sunday. With her points from this tournament, Anna's ranking rose to 47th (from 54th).
Immediately after Anna's singles quarter, Anna and Meghann Shaughnessy defeated Amy Frazier & Abigail Spears 6-1, 6-4 in a doubles quarterfinal. Anna and Meghan were to play top-ranked Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs in a semifinal Saturday, but Anna had strained an abdominal muscle practicing BEFORE her match with Venus Williams, and aggravated the injury during that match and the doubles match afterwards. Anna and Meghann had to withdraw from their doubles semi (a "walkover") (doubles draw).
(July 30) #47 Anna Kournikova annihilated #30 Alexandra Stevenson 6-0, 6-1 Tuesday night in the 1st round of the Acura Classic in San Diego. Anna said: "It was really important to get ahead of her early and not give her any room to breathe. I returned serve unbelievably well and felt really confident going for my shots... Now when I go on court, I'm thinking about my game plan, rather than how to hit the ball. Tonight the score might have looked easy, but's its hard work to keep focused the whole time. I was 99 percent good."
Anna would have faced #4 Monica Seles in the 2nd round today, but Seles, the fourth seed, withdrew on Monday because of injury. Anna will play lucky-loser #68 Jennifer Hopkins instead. This match is just about to start on Stadium Court at 3:15 PM PT (6:15 PM ET). Anna's recent doubles partner Chanda Rubin was not playing at Stanford last week, but she and Meghann Shaughnessy are playing doubles together in San Diego, as due to her recent abdominal strain Anna is not playing doubles at this tournament.
(July 31) #47 Anna Kournikova defeated #68 Jennifer Hopkins 6-2, 6-4 Wednesday afternoon in the 2nd round of the Acura Classic in San Diego. In a match that lasted just under 1 hour, Anna's serve was broken only once, when Jennifer evened the 2nd set at 4-4. But Anna broke back immediately, and then served out the match. Anna would have faced #4 Monica Seles in the 2nd round today, but Seles, the fourth seed, withdrew on Monday because of injury. In the 3rd round on Thursday, Anna will face #70 Conchita Martinez, whose ranking is deceptively low. Anna has a 2-4 career record against the 1994 Wimbledon champion, and Conchita defeated Anna in the 1st round at Charleston on April 15th this year 6(5)-7, 1-6. This will be the 3rd match of the day on Stadium Court, with the 1st match at 10 AM PT (1 PM ET).
(August 1) Anna defeated #70 Conchita Martinez 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 Thursday afternoon in the 3nd round of the Acura Classic. After dropping the 1st set, Anna held her serve throughout the 2nd, breaking Conchita at 2-1 and 5-2. Anna then cruised through the 3rd set, breaking Conchita at 2-1 and 4-1. In the 1st set, Anna said: "I was stiff and cautious. I guess it was in the back of my head. I didn't move well at all. I wasn't into it yet. Once I got warmed up and the blood was flowing, I felt fine... After I was down 4-1 in the first set, I started to find my rhythm. I was ready to go by the second set. I served really well today. I mixed it up more than usual... Conchita is really smart and uses the court well. I haven't played well against her in the past. I had to be patient and attack at the right time." 1994 Wimbledon champ Conchita said: "She wasn't making many mistakes... She was patient and fighting a lot, which she didn't always do in the past."
(August 2) Anna defeated #19 Anna Smashnova of Israel 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a quarterfinal Friday at the Acura Classic. After holding serve in the 1st game of the match, Kournikova lost 5 straight games. Down a break at 1-3 in the 2nd, she then won 5 straight games, breaking Smashnova 3 times. Kournikova trailed 0-2 at the start of the 3rd set, then broke Smashnova twice to gain a 4-2 lead, only to be broken by Smashnova again. Kournikova finally broke Smashnova a third time at 5-4 to win the match.
Anna said: "I'm just really happy to win four matches in a row... Today was definitely tougher... I guess that I was a step too slow in the beginning today... I was really tired from yesterday. Then, I started to play smarter and get more aggressive. I started to move much better... Saturday the match will be more of a power game with more winners and shorter points." (August 3) #5 Jelena Dokic defeated #47 Anna Kournikova 6(6)-7, 7-6(2), 6-0 Saturday in a semifinal at the Acura Classic in San Diego.
In the 1st set both players held serve until 2-2, then Anna broke Jelena's serve 3 of the next 4 times, but Jelena broke back immediately each time. There were 2 breaks apiece in the 2nd set, and Anna failed to convert 2 match points on Jelena's serve at 5-4. Then Anna folded in the 3rd set.
Anna said: "I had those two chances and Dokic served really, really well. There wasn't much that I could do with [the two serves]... Today the pace was much faster. I got tired when I finished the first set... I'm really happy with my results in this tournament in general. This tournament has been great, everything has come together and I'm winning more and more matches."
The other semi pits #2 Venus Williams against #3 Lindsay Davenport at about 7:30 PM Saturday and both semifinals were to be shown live on the FoxSports cable TV channel (check your local listings).
(August 5) Anna Kournikova moved up to #38 in the WTA rankings today, 9 places higher than last week, and 16 higher than just 2 weeks ago. Anna is NOT scheduled to play in this week's JP Morgan Open in LA, so her appearance will be at the Rogers AT&T Canada Cup in Montreal from August 12-18. Venus Williams defeated Jelena Dokic in the final of the Acura Classic yesterday, 6-2, 6-2.
(August 12) #40 Anna Kournikova easily defeated #102 Saori Obata of Japan 6-3, 6-1 Monday night in the 1st round of the Rogers AT&T Canada Cup in Montreal. Anna said: "I definitely felt very good... These courts are really soft, they don't feel like hard courts at all. They're kind of squishy. But I was hitting the ball very well. I was going for my shots. I was pretty confident."
(August 14) #66 Virginia Ruano Pascual defeated #40 Anna Kournikova 7-5, 6-1 on Wednesday in the 2nd round of the Rogers AT&T Canada Cup in Montreal. After a close 1st set, Anna won the 1st game of the 2nd, but would not win another. Play was suspended by a downpour of rain at 40-40 in the last game, and after the rain Ruano Pascual finished the match with 2 straight points.
Anna said: "Everything was kind of off today... I was moving terribly, I was way too far behind the baseline." (results -- singles draw).
In the 1st round of doubles, the Japanese tandem of Ai Sugiyama and Rika Fujiwara defeated 6th-seeded Anna and Austrian Barbara Schett (#23 at doubles, with whom Anna has partnered before) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. It appeared to be an easy win for Anna and Barbara as they led 3-0 in the 2nd set, but after that it was close all the way (doubles draw).
Anna is not scheduled to play in next weeks Pilot Pen in New Haven, so she is returning to Florida to train for the following fortnight's US Open.
An excellent interview of Anna's coach Harold Solomon has appeared online. Solomon says: "I'm not concerned about whether she's going to win tournaments. I know she'll win tournaments. I think she can definitely be a top-10 player again [she was No.8 in 2000 and 2001]. That would be my expectation for her. I'd be disappointed if she didn't end up back in the top 10 over the next year and a half."
(August 16) Organizers of the Kremlin Cup (in Moscow, Sept. 30-Oct. 6) are creating a story for themselves by alleging that Anna Kournikova will likely need a wild card to get into the main draw without going through qualifying, and they might not give one to her. The tournament has 2 wild cards to give, and the WTA 2 more. Kremlin Cup officials say they would like to give their 2 wild cards to other players, (thus Anna would need to get one from the WTA) but they are probably just trying to get media attention, and succeeding.
(August 24) Anna Kournikova was already in New York preparing for the Open on Saturday. Along with Andre Agassi, Serena Williams, and James Blake, Anna participated in the "Hit the Target" competition at Kids Day at Flushing Meadows, in which they took aim at targets spread out on the opposite end of the court to raise money for charity (photo: Anna and Serena applaud -- photo: Anna plays "hit the target").
(August 26) #73 Angelique Widjaja of Indonesia defeated #37 Anna Kournikova 6-3, 6-0 in the 1st round of the US Open on Monday (US Open draw). Anna frequently tried for difficult winners, and she made 9. But she committed 40 unforced errors to get those 9 winners. Widjaja hit only 1 winner in the entire match, but had only 17 unforced errors. Anna also made good 82% of her 1st serves, but she lost every point on her 2nd serve (match statistics).
Anna said: "I think I just played totally the wrong way.. I was going for winners after a second shot. I set (the point) up and then it was just a mistake. Sometimes I went for too much on the wrong shots... I made a million mistakes... I didn't give her any chances. It was kind of weird because I had all the opportunities. I set up the point, and then when I had to put it away, I was missing it. So that was kind of horrible." (postmatch interview on Real Video).
(August 28) 5th seeds Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis defeated Tatiana Perebiynis and Tatiana Poutchek 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the 1st round of doubles at the US Open on Wednesday (match statistics). After her singles loss on Monday, Anna had commented about doubles: "I'm still in the tournament, so I'm just going to practice and go out there and play a totally different game... I'm just going to go out there and we're going to try to win. I mean, it is hard to be around, but it's fine." Every doubles win should make it easier for Anna to "be around". Anna is not playing mixed doubles at this tournament (she did well in mixed at Wimbledon).
(August 31) 5th seeds Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis easily defeated Laura Granville and Jennifer Hopkins 6-1, 6-2 Saturday night in the 2nd round of doubles at the US Open (match statistics).
(Sept. 3) Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis defeated Chanda Rubin and Natasha Zvereva 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 Tuesday in the 3rd round of doubles at the US Open (match statistics).
(Sept. 4) 2nd seeds Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez defeated 5th seeds Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis 6-3, 6-3 in a doubles quarterfinal Wednesday at the US Open. After suffering an early service break in the 1st set, Anna and Martina broke back in the 6th game to even the set at 3-3. But Suarez and Pascual won the next 3 games to take the set. The 2nd set was similar. After dropping behind a break early, Anna and Martina broke back in the 7th game, and were serving at 3-4. But Suarez and Pascual broke back immediately, and then held to finish out the match. Anna and Martina seem to have been flat today, hitting only 2 winners (vs 8 unforced errors) for the match, and winning only 38% of the points on their 1st serves (match statistics -- doubles draw).
A friendly editorial comparing Anna'a accomplishments with the rest of the WTA class of 1995 has appeared in the Wichita Falls, Texas Times-Record, and makes a pleasant read.
(Sept. 8) Shanghaied: Anna is in Shanghai, China this week for the Polo Open. Their website is in Chinese only, and although the site shows photos of Anna in China, a computer translation of the site refers to Anna as "storehouse you the Nepali branch baby". Really. Apparently this is the literal translation of the Chinese characters that are used to signify Anna. If you can read Chinese, here is the link to the untranslated Polo Open website. Otherwise, for info in English, try the WTA.com results and schedules page. The top seed is #18 Anna Smashnova, whom Anna K has defeated twice this year, with #19 Ai Sugiyama s2 and #35 Clarisa Fernandez s3. There will be some pressure on Anna to do well, she is quite capable of winning this tournament and if she bows out early the media will eat her alive.
Glenn Xue, a QuickSports user from Shanghai, emailed the following info:
Anna arrived in Shanghai Saturday night at 5:30pm local on flight UA857 from San Francisco. The airport was crowded with media and fans. Anna got into a red Polo (Shanghai Volkswagen) with her mother Alla and was taken to the Novotel Atlantis Shanghai, where all other players are staying. Anna practiced on Sunday morning (photo) and afternoon for both one hour at the tournament site, Shanghai Xian Xia Tennis Center.
During her stay, there will be some non-tennis activities, including appearances for Omega watch and probably adidas. According to her contract, Anna will stay in Shanghai for the entire week even if she suffers an early round loss. Anna is absolutely the focus of the event this year, with the media presence doubled from last year.
(Sept. 9) 2nd seeds Anna Kournikova and Janet Lee of Taipei defeated Italian sisters Adriana and Antonella Serra Zanetti 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 Sunday in the 1st round of doubles at the Polo Open (English via AltaVista), in Shanghai, China (postmatch interview in English via AltaVista). This is the first time Anna has teamed with the capable Lee, #31 in doubles, #138 in singles.
(Sept. 10) #38 Anna Kournikova, seeded 4th, defeated #216 Mireille Dittmann 6-1, 6-4 on Monday in the 1st round of singles at the Polo Open (English via AltaVista), in Shanghai, China. Anna said: "Obviously it's not the best win of my life, but my game was very good today" (postmatch interview in English -- photos). Anna will play #199 Jie Zheng of China in the 2nd round on Thursday (Wednesday night in the US), it will be their first match against each other.
(Sept. 11) 2nd seeds Anna Kournikova & Janet Lee defeated Mireille Dittmann & Amanda Grahame 6-1, 6-3 Wednesday in a doubles quarterfinal at the Polo Open (English via AltaVista), in Shanghai, China (photos). Anna and Janet (Janet Lee is also known as Li Hui Zhi in Chinese translations, which render "Kournikova" as "storehouse you the Nepali branch baby") will play Ting Li & Tian Tian Sun of China in a semifinal on Saturday (Friday night in the US).
(Sept. 12) Anna Kournikova defeated #199 Jie Zheng of China 6-4, 7-6(4) on Thursday in the 2nd round of the Polo Open (English via AltaVista) in Shanghai, China (postmatch interview in English -- photos). Zheng led 5-3 in the 2nd set before Anna broke back to force the tiebreaker. Anna said: "Somehow I found a way to win. I stayed tough, I stayed strong... She did all she could and she took her chances and she took them well."
(Sept. 13) Anna Kournikova defeated #86 Jelena Kostanic of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 on Friday in quarterfinal of the Polo Open (English via AltaVista) in Shanghai, China. Anna trailed in both sets, but felt in control. Anna said: "She was the lucky one today. I tried to use her weak spots and I think that worked a lot for me. She couldn't really hurt me a lot... I just had to make her move and play it out". Anna will play #20 Ai Sugiyama of Japan in a semifinal on Saturday. Anna and Ai have only played once before, in a quarterfinal at Scottsdale in 2000, when Anna won 6-4 6-2. About Sugiyama, Anna said: "I'm going to have to play aggressive and use my game, because she's going to be very consistent. She's going to be like a wall, I'm going to have to figure out how to break her game apart... She's a fighter."
(Sept. 14) #38 Anna Kournikova defeated #20 Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday in semifinal of the Polo Open (English via AltaVista) in Shanghai, China (postmatch interview in English. Anna said: "In this tournament, I've been playing much smarter. I haven't been maybe winning with my shots, but more with my head." Anna will play #19 Anna Smashnova of Israel in the final on Sunday. This match will begin at 2 PM Shanghai time (that's 11 PM Saturday PT or 2AM Sunday ET) (singles and doubles draws .pdf). The two Annas have played 4 times before, 3 of them in the past year, with Anna K leading the series 3-1. This will be the 4th WTA final of Anna's career, and her first since the Kremlin Cup in October, 2000. About her chances of winning her first WTA title, Anna said: ""I'm not going to be thinking about the big picture, I'm just going to be thinking about the actual match... I'm really not thinking about that and I haven't really been thinking about it for a long time. I'm just trying to have fun out there and enjoy -- and achieve something for myself."
After watching Anna Smashnova defeat Angelique Widjaja in their semi, Anna returned to the court with her partner Janet Lee and they defeated Ting Li & Tian Tian Sun of China 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in their doubles semifinal. 2nd-seeded Anna and Janet will play top seeds Ai Sugiyama and Rika Fujiwara in the doubles final on Sunday following Anna's singles final, after she has time for "suitable rest".
(Sept. 15) #19 Anna Smashnova defeated #38 Anna Kournikova 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday in the final of the Polo Open (English via AltaVista) in Shanghai, China (singles and doubles draws .pdf). This was the 4th WTA final of Anna's career, and her first since the Kremlin Cup in October, 2000. Anna said: "I am quite disappointed. She played her game, and I didn't play the right way... I tried to mix it up. I should have been more aggressive, gone to the net more." (postmatch interview in English -- photos)
After the singles final, Anna and her partner Janet Lee, seeded 2nd in doubles, defeated top seeds Ai Sugiyama and Rika Fujiwara in the doubles final 7-5, 6-3, winning the 16th doubles title of Anna's career. She has won these titles with 6 different partners.
Anna is taking two weeks "off" now (typically practicing about 6 hours a day) before her next tournament (she is not entered in any of the 4 tournaments the next two weeks, although sometimes she has made a surprising late entry). Anna's next action SHOULD be at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow September 30th, although they said she might not receive a wild card entry there (and with her ranking up, she might not need it).
How's she doing: Anna had 873 points before this week. Anna will pick up 67 ranking points for reaching a Tier IV final, plus 2 points for defeating #216 Dittmann, 2 for #199 Zheng, 4 for #86 Kostanic, and 23 points for defeating #20 Sugiyama totaling 98 points. This will displace 1 point for a previously recorded 1st round loss in the 17 tournaments (from the past 52 weeks) totaled for the rankings (so 873+98-1=970). Anna's rank will not rise too much this week, however, because there is a bit of a gap in the point totals between her and the top 35 (#35 Clarisa Fernandez is at 971.25). Depending upon how many points others gain or lose, Anna might move up to #36 or #35. Goals ahead: #20 is at 1270 points now, and #10 is at 2514. Anna has said she just plays a match at a time (a good attitude), but when she reaches a higher rank she will receive main draw entries (without wild cards), seedings, 1st round byes, and easier early round opponents, all of which lead to even higher rankings, and greater acceptance of her much maligned tennis skills. There is still no word on whether Anna will receive a wild card for next week's Porsche Grand Prix of Tennis in Filderstadt, Germany (Oct. 7), but she has been granted a wild card for the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich, beginning Oct. 14th, and is also entered in the Seat Open in Luxembourg (Oct. 21).
(Sept. 30) Anna Kournikova has finally been granted a wild card entry for this week's Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Anna is playing doubles in Moscow, but her frequent partner Martina Hingis is not. On Monday Anna and the very capable Meghann Shaughnessy, seeded 2nd in the tournament, defeated Amanda Coetzer and Silvia Farina Elia 6-3, 6-2 in the 1st round.
(Oct. 1) #36 Anna Kournikova defeated #50 Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday in the 1st round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In the 71-minute match, Anna made good 82% of her 1st serves (at up to 104 MPH), winning the point on 63% of them, and led in service breaks 6-3. She hit 13 winners, but had a rather high 34 unforced errors (to 5 and 40 for Mikaelian) (match statistics). Anna said: "I was playing really well today and it was a nice feeling on the court." Anna will play #169 Nadia Petrova, another Moscow native, in the 2nd round. Petrova upset Anna's good friend #10 Martina Hingis 6-2, 6-2 on Monday.
(Oct. 2) In their doubles quarterfinal on Wednesday, Anna Kournikova and Meghann Shaughnessy lost to Jelena Dokic & Nadia Petrova by default, 4-6, 6-1, retired. Anna twisted and sprained her left ankle late in the second set, when she and Meghann were leading 5-1. 2 minutes into the 3rd set Anna found she was unable to continue, and she and Meghan were forced to retire. The WTA says the injury "will be re-evaluated tomorrow", when Anna will be playing #169 Nadia Petrova in the 2nd round of singles, if she is able (the chance of her playing is now indicated to be 50%). This match is scheduled to take place on Center Court following an ATP match that will start not before 3 PM local time (2 AM PT, 5 AM ET) Anna has played Petrova once before, defeating her in Luxembourg in 2000 1-6, 7-5, 4-1 retired.
(Oct. 3) Anna Kournikova's ankle sprain (see Oct. 2) was found to be far too serious for her to play on Thursday, so she has withdrawn from the Kremlin Cup and her scheduled opponent Nadia Petrova has advanced to the quarterfinals. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) taken Thursday morning showed that Anna has a a partial tear of the anterior talo-fibular ligament of her left ankle. This might keep Anna out of action for the rest of the year. If this is the case, Anna would miss at least 2 and as many as 4 WTA tournaments, plus possibly some Nov.-Dec. exhibition matches. However, this type of injury usually heals in a more straightforward fashion than the left foot stress fracture that plagued her through most of 2001. Anna's condition will be evaluated over the next few days; if there is any more news it will be posted here as it becomes available.
(Oct. 7) As expected, Anna Kournikova withdrew from this week's tournament in Filderstadt, Germany, where she would have been granted a wild card if it were not for her ankle injury. There is still no further word on her condition at this time.
(Oct. 8) Reuters reports that Anna Kournikova has withdrawn from next week's Swisscom Challenge in Zurich after additional tests confirmed that she has indeed torn a ligament in her left ankle. And although the press has not yet said that Anna has officially withdrawn from the Seat Open in Luxembourg (Oct. 21), her name no longer appears on the entry list at their website. It now appears likely that Anna's next WTA tournament might not be until January.
(Oct. 21) Although Anna Kournikova's 2002 WTA season is over due to injury, she will play in exhibitions during the "off season". One of these is a US vs Europe team event in Dublin, Ireland from Dec. 5-7, called the "Collins Cup". Anna would be playing Monica Seles on Dec. 5th. This event is also to include the Williams sisters, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Dokic, Daniela Hantuchova, Iva Majoli, and Barbara Schett. Anna and Daniela are also expected to do some runway modeling at an associated fashion event, and proceeds from the whole thing are to go to the Chernobyl Children’s Project to aid victims of the nuclear reactor disaster in 1986. Anna is scheduled to play Monica Seles again in St. Paul, Minnesota on Dec. 14th and Winnipeg, Canada on Dec. 15th, and apparently exhibition officials expect Anna to be healthy enough to play.
(Nov. 9) Anna Kournikova talked about her Dec. 15th Winnipeg exhibition against Monica Seles in a press conference call from Miami on Friday, Nov. 8th. Anna said: "I've never been to Winnipeg itself but I've been to Canada a million times before... I don't know much about Winnipeg but I'm really looking forward to it. I heard it's a cool city and it's going to be really cold, right?... I'll bring some warm clothes."
About the match and returning from injury, Anna said: "It's going to tell me where I'm at physically and it's great preparation for Australia... Now that I've missed out on the last four tournaments, it's going to be very important to play matches in order to see where I am. It's really important for me."
Anna was questioned about her offcourt modeling activities: "I do some magazine stuff once in a while, like recently because I was injured... I never do it before a tournament or during a tournament and plus, even if I did, I don't have to explain it to anybody... My job is to go out there and play tennis. It's not even a job, it's what I want to do."
About other players who dislike her, Anna said: "Whatever people think of me, I can't be perfect or good or nice or everything to everybody. Some people will like me, and some are not going to like me. I have to live my life and do what I feel I have to do... I mean, I wasn't an angel when I was younger... We all grow up and learn from the mistakes we made. I always had a circle of people that I get along with great. There's also a circle of people that get along as colleagues. And of course, like in any sport or any office, some people don't actually get along great. It's absolutely normal. I mean, there's 1,000 tennis players. If you have 128 girls in one locker-room, you wouldn't expect all of them to get along completely perfectly normal. It's not like we're on one team. We have to play against each other."
And about winning tournaments, Anna said: "It's definitely something I want, obviously... I've been in finals a few times and in semifinals a million times... I've been very close and sometimes been very unlucky. I'm sure it'll come together, like maybe when people don't expect me to do anything anymore."
(Dec. 1) Anna Kournikova is scheduled to arrive in Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday, Dec. 4th for her exhibition against Monica Seles on Dec. 5th.
Anna will begin 2003 in Auckland, New Zealand for the ASB Bank Classic (Dec. 30-Jan. 4). Anna reached the semifinals there last year. She will then travel to Sydney, Australia for the adidas International (Jan. 5-11), after which she will play in the Australian Open in Melbourne (Jan. 13-26).
(Dec. 5) Anna Kournikova played Monica Seles in an exhibition today in Dublin, Ireland, but results are not available on the net via usual sports news sources. You can see photos of Anna playing and modeling (looking very nice, as usual), but the score is not with them. In another underpublicized exhibition, Conchita Martinez defeated Anna last Sunday, Dec. 1 in Zaragosa, Spain 6-3, 7-5.
(Dec. 8) #7 Monica Seles defeated Anna Kournikova 7-6, 6-4 in the Collins Cup exhibition in Dublin, Ireland, on December 5th. Monica said: "I had to play extremely well to beat Anna and I could tell that she was really up for the match. I had to play a very energetic level." This quote came from the Times of London, whose tennis correspondent Neil Harman said that Anna "played breathtakingly well herself, but not for long enough." Anna is said to have flown out of Dublin at 5 AM the following morning. A Yahoo! search will provide you with photos of Anna playing and modeling (looking very nice, as usual), but no news of the match. That search link will also bring you photos of another underpublicized exhibition: Conchita Martinez defeated Anna last Sunday, Dec. 1 in Zaragosa, Spain 6-3, 7-5. Anna will play Monica again in St. Paul on Dec. 14th and in Winnipeg on Dec. 15th.
(Dec. 15) #7 Monica Seles defeated Anna Kournikova 7-6(6), 6-4 Saturday night (Dec. 14th) in an exhibition in St. Paul, Minnesota. Anna led 5-3 in the 1st set, but was unable to hold off Monica, who has been said to be at the top of her game recently. About playing her childhood "favorite player", Anna said: "It's amazing to play against Monica. It's like the best feeling in the world." About Anna, Monica said: "She's dedicated her life to this sport. She's one of the hardest workers on tour." Anna will play Monica in a third exhibition tonight in Winnipeg, Canada.
(Dec. 16) #35 Anna Kournikova defeated #7 Monica Seles 6-4, 7-5 Sunday night (Dec. 15th) in an exhibition in Winnipeg, Canada. It was Anna's third consecutive close exhibition match against Monica. Later, Monica and Canadian Sonya Jeyaseelan defeated Anna and Canadian Vanessa Webb in a single-set doubles match, 6-4. About her hopes for the 2003 season, Anna said: "...I'm hoping I'll stay healthy... I'm definitely really looking forward to that. That's my main goal -- to try to play a full season without getting injured... And you know, I'm playing really well right now, just working hard, going to the gym, doing all the things to take care of my body."
(Dec. 31) Anna Kournikova is not playing in the 2003 season-opening ASB Bank Classic (Dec. 30-Jan. 4), in Auckland, New Zealand, where she reached the semifinals last year. Although she was listed on their website as an entrant, this was apparently an inadvertant leftover from last year. So Anna's next action will be in Sydney, Australia for the adidas International (Jan. 5-11), after which she will play in the Australian Open in Melbourne (Jan. 13-26), and then the Toray Pan-Pacific Open, in Tokyo, Japan (Jan. 28). Anna also reached the semifinals in Tokyo last year.
ESPN will end the year with a new Anna Kournikova special showing Anna and photographer Bill Ling creating the official 2003 Anna Kournikova Calendar in Tamaulipas, Mexico.
The special will air at the following times:
Monday, 12/30/02 @ 9:00 - 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Monday, 12/30/02 @ 11:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. on ESPN2
Tuesday, 12/31/02 @ 5:30 - 6:00 a.m. on ESPN2
Tuesday, 12/31/02 @ 2:00 - 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Wednesday, 1/1/03 @ 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. om ESPN
(times are Eastern Standard Time)
A few more nice new photos of Anna can be found at the Omega Watch website, where there are pics of Anna and Martina Hingis at the inauguration of the Casino in Lugano, Switzerland on November 29, 2002.
Note: Links to news stories on some other websites may expire with time, others maintain the links indefinitely.
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