Lausanne teenager Marie-Gaïané Mikaelian has kept Swiss hopes alive at the Swisscom Challenge tennis tournament in Kloten, pulling off the biggest upset of the opening round with a straight sets win over Russian world number 13 Elena Dementieva.This content was published on October 16, 2001 - 22:48
Currently ranked 105th in the world, the 17-year-old Swiss played some of the best tennis of her young career, firing consistently long and powerful groundstrokes past her illustrious opponent.
After breaking Dementieva twice in the opening set and once more in the second, Mikaelian needed just one hour and one minute to complete an unlikely 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Best win yet
"It's my best win yet," a grinning Mikaelian told swissinfo. "I'm so happy to beat such a good player. I've worked very hard on my game over the last few weeks and months, so this feels great."
Following the withdrawal of Martina Hingis through injury and the early departure of Swiss number two Patty Schnyder, Mikaelian was well aware of the hopes resting on her young shoulders ahead of Tuesday's match. But after winning the European junior championships in Klosters earlier this year before going on to reach her first WTA final in Basel, Mikaelian doesn't seem to suffer from home crowd jitters.
"I could really feel the crowd behind me today, but that was marvellous. I love playing here in Switzerland, because I'm Swiss."
Technically, that hasn't always been the case though. The daughter of an Armenian father and Swiss mother, Mikaelian decided to represent Armenia as a junior after failing to convince the Swiss tennis association of her talents. Even this year's junior title in Klosters was won under Armenian colours, but Mikaelian insists her true nationality has never been in doubt.
"I had to play as a junior for Armenia because the Swiss tennis association said I had no talent and they wouldn't send me to any of the big tournaments that I needed to experience. But that was the only reason. I'm Swiss. I was born in Switzerland, so there's no reason for me to change."
by Mark Ledsom, Kloten
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