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Swiss tennis dream over in Zurich

Down and out: Martina Hingis leaves the court after her quarterfinal defeat to Swetlena Kusnezowa

(Keystone)

Local favourite Martina Hingis has been knocked out of the quarterfinals of the Zurich Open, losing to third-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Switzerland had two representatives on quarterfinals day, but after Russia's Maria Sharapova easily overpowered Swiss wild card Timea Bacsinszky, winning 6-4 6-3, the home fans went home disappointed.

The two defeats follow that of Swiss star Patty Schnyder, who crashed out at the first round stage on Tuesday after a straight-sets defeat 2-6, 5-7.

The battle between Kuznetsova and fifth-seeded Hingis was an absorbing contest that featured high quality tennis from Kuznetsova in the first set, Hingis in the second, and from both players in the third.

Kuznetsova dominated the opening set, consistently hitting the lines and moving the ball around well in the rallies.

Hingis turned it round in the second, finding the lines and causing a series of unforced errors from the world number three. Her serve also earned her five aces in the set. Kuznetsova was immediately in trouble, fighting off two break points at 1-0, before Hingis mirrored the first set with breaks for 3-1 and 5-1.

Hingis came onto court for the third with a big smile on her face. But it did not last long, as a forehand error gave Kuznetsova what proved to be a decisive break for 2-0. This steadied her nerves, and after that she remained in control.

"I haven't played such an intense match since my Montreal victory over Svetlana," explained Hingis. "It was a question of one or two points. I should have held my service at the start of the third set."

Swiss wild card

After three wins in the qualifying tournament and two in the main draw, Bacsinszky finally met her match in the number two seed and newly crowned US Open champion.

Sharapova was rarely troubled by the 17-year-old Swiss star, who nevertheless served well and occasionally caught the Russian unprepared with some well-struck shots.

"I committed too many mistakes," the Vaud player said after the match. "I still lack experience to manage the key moments of a match."

"She played pretty well," said Sharapova about Bacsinszky. "She served quite big on her second serves, but when I had the opportunity I did well to put some pressure on her."

Schnyder

Earlier in the week sixth seed and last year's finalist Schnyder was dumped out by Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, dropping serve four times in a 6-2 7-5 loss.

Hantuchova's victory did not come without a scare though, as she was broken serving for the match at 5-4 by the Swiss before fighting off another break point at 6-5 to eventually seal the win.

"I didn't get the chance to really play," said Schnyder, whose defeat is a blow to her hopes of qualifying for the WTA Championship in Madrid next month.

"I wish I'd had a better first round and then been able to play my way into the tournament. Now it's over."

The match leaves a semi-final line-up of four players from eastern Europe. Saturday's action sees Kuznetsova taking on the Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, while the other Russian, Sharapova, faces the Slovene Katarina Srebotnik.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Zurich Open runs until Sunday at the city's Hallenstadion.
Total prize money is $1.3 million (SFr1.7 million).
It was first held in 1984, and since 1993 it has been one of the top-ranked events behind the grand slams.

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Tales of two Swiss

Since 1994 Martina Hingis has won 41 WTA singles titles, five grand slam singles crowns and 36 doubles tournaments.

She was world number one for five years before retiring through injury in 2002. She returned to competition earlier this year and in May won her first WTA event since her comeback.

Since 1998 Patty Schnyder has won 13 WTA singles titles and four doubles crowns. Her best result in a grand slam tournament was reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2004.

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