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Keothavong flies the flag for British women

sports Updated: Aug 28, 2008 09:56 IST
Pritha Sarkar

It is not often that a British woman reaches the third round of the US Open. In fact, until Wednesday, the last time it happened was in 1991.

Anne Keothavong snapped that barren run when she knocked out 25th seed Francesca Schiavone with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 win at Flushing Meadows.

By flying the flag for British women's tennis, Keothavong was delighted she will at long last be able to share some of the spotlight with her more celebrated compatriot, men's world number six Andy Murray.

"I guess it's a nice feeling just to get women's tennis out there," the 87th-ranked Keothavong told reporters.

"There are women out there who are doing things in British tennis and it's nice to know that it's just not Andy Murray out there.

"It's nice to kind of be with him at these events and share it with him."

By reaching the last 32 of a grand slam for the first time in her career, Keothavong is showing her career is heading in the right direction.

In June, she was the first home-grown woman to gain direct entry into the Wimbledon draw since 1999 and she is guaranteed to boost her ranking further following her two wins in New York.

Significant Break

"It just took me a little longer than others... but this year it was quite significant for me to finally break into the top 100," said the 24-year-old, who is competing at a grand slam other than Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

"Now that that's kind of off my back, I can just look ahead and keep working on other things. I'm not where I want to be because I just want to keep climbing up in the rankings."

Keothavong, beaten by eventual champion Venus Williams in the second round at Wimbledon this year, made a promising start on Wednesday when she broke Schiavone in the opening game of the match.

But the Italian hit back to snare the second set and roared into a 4-2 lead in the decider. Keothavong refused to accept defeat and clawed back to seal victory and a third-round date with Olympic champion Elena Dementieva.

"Before the match, I really believed I had a chance to win, and I knew if I could hang in there and just get stuck in, I'd be in with a good shot," the Briton said.

"Even though I lost my serve and went 4-2 down, I never felt at that point I lost the match. I felt if I just kept fighting and hanging in there, my chance would come and I got there, so I'm pretty pleased about it."

Jo Durie and Sara Gomer were the last British women to reach the last 32 at Flushing Meadows. Durie eventually lost in the fourth round in 1991.