Russian contingent dwindling -- some

Updated: January 23, 2005, 7:40 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Two of Russia's three major title holders are into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova pounded 29 winners to overcome a fellow Russian on Sunday -- 6-4, 6-2 over Vera Douchevina -- and faces another in the quarterfinals.

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, seeded fourth, will face Kuznetsova next after coming back from a set and a break down to beat Italy's Silvia Farina Elia 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Sharapova, 17, was using bags of ice to cool off during the changeovers and looked to be in trouble after losing the first set and opening the second by dropping her serve.

But Sharapova ran off seven consecutive games and broke Farina Elia's last seven service games.

Three of the seven Russian women who made the fourth round are already out.

Seventh-seeded Serena Williams, who won here in 2003 but didn't return last year because of a knee injury, appeared to struggle before recovering to beat No. 11 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Second-ranked Amelie Mauresmo of France had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Evgenia Linetskaya in a mistake-prone match with 11 service breaks.

Mauresmo raced to a 4-0 lead. After Linetskaya broke her to make it 4-1, Mauresmo took a medical timeout, left the court and came back with her left thigh wrapped.

She had trouble on serve after that, dropping it once again in the first set and twice in the second, but held on to close with an overhead winner.

Kuznetsova was dragged into the headlines earlier in the week when a Belgian regional sports minister said the 19-year-old Russian star had tested positive for ephedrine, a stimulant commonly used in cold medicines, at a charity match last month.

The matter blew over when it was revealed ephedrine isn't on the list of banned substances for tennis players in the offseason.

In other fourth-round women's matches, seventh-seeded Serena Williams played No. 11 Nadia Petrova of Russia.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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