Kuznetsova's starring role in walk-off part

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The Independent Online

Being US Open champion clearly does wonders for your self-belief. When Svetlana Kuznetsova slipped on the grass yesterday as rain began to fall during her quarter-final in the Hastings Direct International tournament at Devonshire Park, the 19-year-old Russian walked off the court without even looking at the umpire, Kim Craven.

With her opponent, Nathalie Dechy, clearly in agreement, the players had already disappeared by the time Craven announced that play had been suspended. Kuznetsova, the defending champion, had won the first set but was 0-1 down in the second. When the match resumed, she went on to win 6-4, 7-5.

"I slipped on the baseline," Kuznetsova said with a shrug when asked about her walk-off. "The grass was wet. It was very dangerous. They can't make me play when it's slippery."

The world No 5 had too much firepower for Dechy. The Frenchwoman had a point to win the second set but put an easy backhand into the net and thereafter lost confidence. In today's semi-finals Kuznetsova meets Kim Clijsters.

The other semi-final will be between the Russian qualifier, Vera Douchevina and either Anastasia Myskina or Roberta Vinci, whose quarter-final will be completed this morning.