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Dementieva targets end to Australian bogey

sports Updated: Jan 04, 2009 11:21 IST
AFP
Elena Dementieva

Olympic champion Elena Dementieva is looking to the ASB Classic in Auckland starting Monday to build confidence as she attempts to end her Australian Open jinx later in the month.

Dementieva, the top seed in Auckland and World No 4, said she wants as much court time as possible before the Australian Open, the only Grand Slam in which she has failed to reach the quarter-finals.

Her best return in Melbourne has been the last 16 which the 27-year-old Russian has achieved four times, including last year.

"I've never had a good result in the Australian Open and maybe it's going to be different this time," she said.

"I've come here to play my first tournament (in 2009) and I'm planning to go to Sydney, just to get ready and play as many matches as possible to get the confidence."

Dementieva plays Chan Yung-Jan of Taipei in the opening round here with the winner playing either New Zealand No. 1 Marina Erakovic or Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives in the second round.

The New Zealand tournament marks the return of former teenage tennis star Mirjana Lucic, a wildcard entry to the main draw.

Lucic, who has been absent from the tennis circuit in recent years for personal reasons, won her first WTA tournament in 1997 as a 15-year-old.

The following year the Croat became the youngest player ever to win an Australian Open title when aged 15 years 10 months and 21 days she teamed with another teen prodigy, Martina Hingis, to win the doubles crown.

Lucic, now 26, said recent years have been "extremely difficult for me, not being able to continue travelling and competing on the tour because of financial reasons, but I never stopped training and I never lost the belief in myself".

The ASB Classic field also includes World No. 11 Nadia Petrova and the 12th-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.