At the Australian Open today
Which Russian woman will gain more attention today in Melbourne: Maria Sharapova or Svetlana Kuznetsova?
U.S. Open champion Kuznetsova suddenly found herself on the defense when the Belgian Minister of Sports leaked to the media that she'd tested positive for ephedrine at an exhibition match.
The WTA immediately jumped to her defense saying the Belgian authorities failed to follow World Anti-Doping Agency protocol. On Tuesday, WTA CEO Larry Scott told ESPN that ephedrine is not considered a banned substance out of competition and the WTA has no plans to pursue the matter. A second sample is still being tested.
"If it's out of competition, under our program, there is zero implication," Scott said.
Still, Kuznetsova has to try and keep winning matches at a major tournament while defending her honor. She plays Marion Bartoli for the first time ever in the second round. Both players had their best showing Down Under at last year's tournament. Kuznetsova managed one round further, though, by reaching the third round. Since then, Kuznetsova won her first major tournament and is attempting back-to-back Slam wins for the first time.
Sharapova is one of the few women playing someone she's actually faced before. In fact, it was in the second round of the Aussie last year when Sharapova took a 2-0 edge over American Lindsay Lee-Waters with a 6-1, 6-3 victory. You might remember Lee-Waters from the 2000 U.S. Open, which she played while six months pregnant.
Potential show stoppers
In a battle of big servers, Johansson plays Peter Wessels of the Netherlands. No. 11 Johansson rose 101 places up the Entry Rankings in 2004 to end the season at No. 12. Wessels, ranked 91, has not played at the Australian Open since 2001.
Last year's Australian Open junior champion, Monfils plays small but dangerous Oliver Rochus of Belgium. Monfils, who is 6-foot-3, improved his record 700 places last season to finish the year ranked 229.