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From Russia with no love for Maria

Alla Kudryavtseva humiliated compatriot Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon on Thursday and then laid bare the simmering resentment felt by many Russian players towards their glamorous compatriot.

sports Updated: Jun 27, 2008 08:59 IST

Alla Kudryavtseva humiliated compatriot Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon on Thursday and then laid bare the simmering resentment felt by many Russian players towards their glamorous compatriot.

Kudryavtseva, the world 154, handed Sharapova an embarrassing 6-2, 6-4 second round defeat and then stunned a news conference by revealing how her frosty relationship with the planet's richest sportswoman inspired her win.

"I don't know her well. I think I'm quite sure no one on the tour knows Maria well because she's not a very talkative girl and not very outgoing," Kudryavtseva said.

"But we were in the same team for Fed Cup. After that she started saying hello. That's nice.

"It's very pleasant to beat Maria. Why? Well, I don't like her outfit. Can I put it this way? It's a little too much of everything. It was one of the motivations to beat her."

The 20-year-old was referring to Sharapova's widely-publicised Wimbledon tuxedo-style top and shorts, but was actually a thinly-veiled assault on the Florida-based world number two's relationship with her Russian teammates.

Kudryavtseva, who will face China's Peng Shuai for a place in the last 16, insisted she didn't care what Sharapova's reaction might be to her outburst.

"If I'm not afraid to go play her and she's world No. 3, I'm not afraid she's going to catch me in the dressing room and say, 'You know what, you said you don't like my outfit. You were wrong'. I will say, 'Sorry. That's just my opinion'."

Kudryavtseva admitted the win was the best day of her career.

"For sure beating her is a big deal for me. The best day of my tennis life? yes," she said.

"The way I warmed up I was trying my best shots and everything worked. So I was like, Well, I'm in a good shape, and she doesn't play her best tennis at the moment, so I was thinking about winning.

"I realised Maria was not playing that great when she double faulted three times.

"I was trying not to keep the score in my head so much because it puts a lot of pressure. I said, 'Thanks God that last forehand went in'."

Kudryavtseva's painful loss to Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon last year helped motivate her as she got close to finishing off Sharapova.

"I think what helped is my match with Venus Williams. I was so close to winning that one and then just played a little too passive in the end," she said. "There's no way I was going to do the same mistake again, so I went for my shots."

There was never any sign of Kudryavtseva cracking as she displayed the kind of toughness you would expect from the daughter of a wrestling champion.

"My father was the world champion. He was great," she added. "But I never thought about going into wrestling. I never did any other sports but tennis."