Tennis: Smith leads British exodus

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The Independent Online
SAM SMITH led the British exodus from the Direct Line Championships here yesterday as all three home players fell at the first hurdle in the final warm-up tournament before Wimbledon. The 27-year-old British No 1, ranked No 77 in the world, was beaten 6-4, 6-1 by Anne Kremer of Luxembourg, ranked No 40. Kremer's reward for beating Smith is a second-round tie today with Monica Seles, the No 1 seed.

"I feel that everything is going in the right direction," Smith said yesterday, despite the result, which was her second first-round reverse within a week following an early exit from the DFS Classic.

The turning point yesterday came in the first set, when Smith, leading 4-3 and serving, suddenly seem incapable of playing anything other than slices from the baseline. Everything she hit went long, wide or into the net and Kremer took the game. Smith then lost five consecutive service games.

Karen Cross, the British No 4, lost 2-6, 6-3, 1-6 to Sylvia Plischke of Austria, who now meets Nathalie Tauziat of France in the second round. Louise Latimer, the 21-year-old British No 3 who won two tough qualifiers to reach the first round, succumbed 6-4, 7-6 to the Ukrainian, Elena Tatarkova, who meets Amanda Coetzer of South Africa.

Anna Kournikova, the teenaged Russian ranked No 18 in the world and seeded No 5 here, beat the American Chanda Rubin 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Kournikova now meets another American, Lisa Raymond.