Baltacha dwells on positives after defeat in savouring 'best year' yet


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The Independent Online

Elena Baltacha's US Open is over but the 28-year-old Briton will take only positives from her Grand Slam year.

Defeat in the second round here on Thursday night, when she was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Svetlana Kuznetsova, matched Baltacha's performance at the three other Grand Slam tournaments and should ensure that she stays in the world's top 60.

Having reached the quarter-finals of her previous tournament in Dallas, where she beat a top 20 player in Julia Goerges, Baltacha has good reason to be more than satisfied with her form.

"I won some good matches," she said. "These tournaments have been so strong and I'm very happy with how I'm playing. I think if someone said to me at the beginning of the year that I would finish ranked in the 50s – with everything I'd achieved last year, with all the points coming off – I would have said, 'That would be a really good year if I could do that'. The fact that I've managed to defend the points and get into the 50s means it's probably even better than last year."

Baltacha made a flying start against Kuznetsova, winning the first three games, but the 2004 champion, who is a former world No 2, quickly restored order. Nevertheless, Baltacha made the Russian work hard for her victory.

"She had a very good match today and I just did the best that I could," _Baltacha said. "I think if you'd asked me if I could go out and play her again, would I do anything different, I would say that I would be more aggressive. I'd make more of an effort to push myself back on to that baseline because she did push me back. Once I got more defensive, she stepped up and made opportunities for herself."

Having had a busy year, Baltacha has decided to skip the Asian circuit, where most of the top players will compete in the coming weeks. She will take some time off with her family in Glasgow before playing the main tour events in Linz and Luxembourg and two tournaments on the International Tennis Federation circuit at Shrewsbury and Poitiers.

Baltacha's main target is to play at next summer's Olympic Games at Wimbledon. The world's top 56 players – Baltacha is currently No 58 in the rankings – automatically qualify for the event. "I really want to make the cut for the Olympics," she said. "I know they've got some wild cards but I want to make it on my own ranking."