Baltacha's flying start at US Open falls flat


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The Independent Online

Elena Baltacha has had the best year of her career on the biggest stages but her US Open campaign ended in disappointment here last night when she was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 28-year-old Briton, who has reached the second round of each Grand Slam event this year, got off to a flying start but was unable to match the quality or the power of her Russian opponent.

Kuznetsova, who won the title here in 2004, chased down most of Baltacha's best shots and punished anything that was short or lacking penetration. Baltacha tried to mix up her game but admitted afterwards that she should have played with a little more aggression.

The Briton could not have made a better start, breaking Kuznetsova at the first time of asking with a backhand winner down the line and racing into a 3-0 lead. However, the Russian quickly recovered in a high-quality opening set and won the next five games in a row to take command.

When Kuznetsova broke in the opening game of the second set it seemed that a quick finish was likely, but Baltacha held on gamely. She twice threatened to break the Kuznetsova serve, but on each occasion the 2004 champion upped her game. At 3-5 Baltacha saved two match points, but on the third she double-faulted. The Briton, who had been unhappy with some line calls earlier in the match, thought her second serve had hit the line and at the end refused to shake hands with the French umpire, Arnaud Gabas.

"I started really well and then she got on her game," Baltacha said afterwards. "She moved unbelievably well. She got some balls back that I just didn't expect and I was amazed when she even started sliding into some shots."