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Swisscom Challenge: Schnyder and Gagliardi crash out

A downcast Patty Schnyder leaves Kloten after her first round defeat


Basel's Patty Schnyder has completed a miserable day for Swiss fans at the Swisscom Challenge tournament in Kloten. The Swiss number two was knocked out in the first round just hours after Emmanuelle Gagliardi had suffered the same fate.

Schnyder's defeat was the most surprising, coming against Russian qualifier Anastasia Myskina. Ranked 30 places below Schnyder in the world rankings, the Moscow teenager took an early grip on the match, breaking the Swiss player twice to win the first set 6-4.

The second set began just as badly for Schnyder with the Russian taking the first two games. But as the Swiss spectators expressed their impatience with slow hand claps, Schnyder finally seemed to respond.

An impressive six-game winning streak saw her win the second set 6-2. But those who sensed a turnaround had not reckoned on Schnyder's infamous inconsistency.

In the deciding set the Swiss player was again all over the place, underhitting her drop shots and overhitting her volleys. Myskina took full advantage building up a 5-0 lead before finally allowing Schnyder to take a game.

It was much too late for another comeback though. Schnyder was broken once again in what proved to be the final game of a 4-6, 6-2, 1-6 defeat.

As Schnyder stepped off the court, Geneva's Emmanuelle Gagliardi was already heading for home after suffering an early defeat at the hands of Australian teenager Jelena Dokic.

In the opening set Gagliardi twice managed to break her opponents serve but was herself broken three times to go down 6-3. There was nothing so close about the second set, as Dokic rediscovered her rhythm to seal an emphatic victory (6-3, 6-0).

Although disappointed with the nature of her defeat, Gagliardi said after the match that she had enjoyed having the chance to play in front of a Swiss crowd.

"I didn't feel any pressure," she told swissinfo. "I'll take as many chances as I can to play in Switzerland because every player looks forward to playing in front of their own people. It's a source of motivation rather than pressure."

A win for Gagliardi would have given her the opportunity to take on Switzerland's world number one, Martina Hingis. Instead it will be Dokic who faces the Swiss star with memories still strong of her shock win over Hingis during the first round of last year's Wimbledon tournament.

"A lot of time has passed but Wimbledon is still a good memory for me," Dokic recalled. "I still have nothing to lose so I'm just going to attack and take my chances."

Dokic's name may bring back some unpleasant memories for Hingis but, history aside, the Swiss player appears to be in great shape for the Kloten tournament, after winning last week's competition in Filderstadt at a blistering pace.

In Kloten she will be looking to win her first major tournament on Swiss soil, after twice losing in the final. Following the late withdrawal of last year's winner Venus Williams, Hingis is widely expected to meet America's Lindsay Davenport in Sunday's final.

If that's to be the case both women will first have to come through a fairly strong field which includes France's Nathalie Tauziat, South African Amanda Coetzer and rising Russian star Elena Dementieva. And if the world number one has had any cause to forget that nothing is guaranteed in professional tennis, the sight of Dokic on the other side of the net should provide an adequate reminder.

by Mark Ledsom

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