For the umpteenth time, Anastasia Myskina glared across at her coach, Jens Gerlach, as if she wanted to murder him. The Russian, her mood as tempestuous as her tennis, had just given Kim Clijsters a foothold in the second set. Earlier, she had been 4-0 up. Gerlach, clearly, was to blame.
Most people, Myskina included, agree that her tendency to let her emotions run away with her is her fatal flaw. Gerlach, her former boyfriend, is usually the target when her frustration boils over. Scornful looks, accusing gestures, even tirades of abuse - he gets them all. Myskina, who lost to Clijsters in the Australian Open quarter-finals yesterday, usually apologises afterwards.
"He knows I don't really mean it," she said. "I'm really emotional, but it's only on the court. I'm a really tough girl on court, really nice off the court."
Myskina's 6-2, 7-6 defeat ended her hopes of playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final. Instead, it was Clijsters who went through to play Switzerland's Patty Schnyder today for a place in the final.
Schnyder beat Lisa Raymond 7-6, 6-3 after the self-belief that drove the American to victory over Venus Williams in the third round deserted her yesterday. Raymond dropped serve to love as she was serving for the first set at 6-5 and then played poorly in the tie-break. In the second set, she dropped serve in the first game from 40-15 up and then failed to break from 0-40 in the second.
The 30-year-old American had 44 unforced errors and only 24 winners. "I don't think that I've been this disappointed losing a match," said Raymond, who is known mainly as a doubles specialist. "I really, really thought that I had a good shot of having a breakthrough here."Reuse content