TENNIS – Young guns

news: TENNIS - Young guns

Michaella Krajicek, 16, half-sister of former Wimbledon champion, Richard Krajicek, has won her first WTA event in Tashkent. Another 16-year-old, the Czech Nicole Vaidisova, took the Tokyo title, already her fourth on the tour. Meanwhile, two further young aspirants to Maria Sharapova’s crown, still a teenager herself, were going strongly at last weekend’s prestigious Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva, also 16, who first shot to prominence at this year’s French Open, needed only 46 minutes to dismiss Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 in the first round. Dinara Safina, recently successful with Russia’s Federation Cup team, beat the experienced Silvia Farina Elia 6-1, 7-5.

Sharapova herself, making her debut in her native Russia, looked down and out trailing Germany’s Anna Lena Groenfeld 1-6, 2-4 before the tearful outsider had to retire injured. Karatancheva found Elena Dementieva too much in round two, going out 6-0, 6-1, but Safina continued her good form beating Australia’s Stosur 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, before facing Sharapova. Safina triumphed 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 over the world number one, recording her biggest win to-date to reach the semis.

Third seed Mary Pierce then took advantage of the exhausted Safina to reach the final in straight sets where unseeded Francesca Schiavone awaited. The Italian confounded the experts by not only reaching the quarter-finals but going on to beat both Likhovtseva and Dementieva to get there. However, she went on to lose 6-4, 6-3 to Pierce, who finally managed to hold her nerve in a final.

An injured foot is keeping world number one Roger Federer off the courts, but the top-seeded Nikolai Davydenko could not take advantage of the champion’s absence exiting 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 in the first round of the men’s draw of the competition to unknown Italian Daniele Bracciali. Greg Rusedski had no problems disposing of Michael Llodra 6-3, 6-1, but then capitulated 6-7, 3-6 to Russian wild card Igor Kunitsyn.

In Vienna, Tim Henman crashed out 7-6, 6-7, 1-6 in round two of the indoor tournament to Czech Radek Stepanek.

Croatia’s Goran Ivanisevic has withdrawn from the Senior Tour’s Masters final at the Royal Albert Hall after a shock recall to his country’s Davis Cup final line-up.