Pratt caps big day for Aussie girls - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pratt caps big day for Aussie girls

By David Beniuk And Darren Walton 08/01/2007 09:15:36 PM Comments (0)

Big-hearted veteran Nicole Pratt completed a memorable day for Australia's women tennis players as tournament drawcard Martina Hingis made an unscheduled exit from the Sydney International.

Swinging freely, Pratt posted the best win of her long career, sending in-form Russian Dinara Safina packing from the Australian Open warm-up event at Olympic Park with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

The 33-year-old's triumph came on top of fellow Queenslander Samantha Stosur's crushing 6-1 6-4 defeat of Russian Vera Zvonareva and Alicia Molik's 4-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Jelena Kostanic in Hobart and set up a second-round showdown on Tuesday with world No.5 Kim Clijsters.

Pratt declared the trio's victories just the tonic for the locals heading into next week's Open at Melbourne Park.

"We've all kind of got different stories at the moment. Alicia's coming back, I'm sort of in my twilight and Sam's just bursting through," she said.

"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going."

Pratt's unexpected success topped Jelena Jankovic's 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Hingis as the upset of the day.

Safina, the younger sister of former men's world No.1 Marat Safin, broke into the world's top 10 for the first time on Monday after downing Hingis in the final on the Gold Coast on Saturday, while Pratt only gained a start in Sydney as a wildcard entry.

Now into her 20th and last season on the WTA tour, Pratt's only previous victory over a top-10 rival came against Frenchwoman Sandrine Testud on grass at Birmingham in 2002.

"I'm just rapt, I'm really excited," Pratt said.

"I knew she was in good form coming in from winning the Gold Coast but I also knew she'd be a little tired."

With a more relaxed and carefree approach to the game, Pratt promised to go out with a bang in 2007.

"I'm just taking every win that I can get. Basically this year's goal for me is just accumulating matches," said the Australian Fed Cup stalwart.

"I wanted to go out this year and win matches that I should win and basically just swing away at those that maybe I'm not meant to beat.

"I do believe I can beat those players."

Earlier Monday, Stosur set her sights on displacing Lleyton Hewitt as Australia's highest-ranked player after her equally convincing win over Zvonareva, a finalist in Auckland at the weekend.

The 22-year-old Gold Coaster, who is already Australia's No.1 women's player at No.27 in the world, is now eyeing a place in the top 20.

"I'd like to try and win a title this year but I guess for everyone that's the goal every year and being now top 30, I guess the next spot's top 20," Stosur said.

"I don't know when that's going to happen but I think if I keep playing as well as what I've been doing and keep improving certain things, then hopefully I can get there."

Hewitt is ranked 19th on the men's list but Stosur was the nation's biggest prize money winner in 2006, with earnings of $1.25 million, after reaching the final in Prague and snaring 10 doubles titles with American partner Lisa Raymond, including the French Open.

Stosur, runner-up to Molik in Sydney two years ago, will play the 12th-ranked Jankovic - a semi-finalist at the 2006 US Open - in the second round on Tuesday.

"The whole crowd will be against me," said Jankovic, who beat Stosur 6-4 6-1 in their only previous meeting in Los Angeles last year.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news