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Hantuchova hungers for return to form

Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova's game and mental state looked as fragile as her waif-like figure when the Slovak slipped out on Friday.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2003 09:48 IST

Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova's game and mental state looked as fragile as her waif-like figure when the Slovak slipped out of the US Open with a 6-2 6-4 second-round defeat by Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn on Friday.

Hantuchova's listless play and demeanour at the final grand slam of the season seem sure to spark renewed concerns about the 20-year-old's health.

Dubbed the "Slovakian Skeleton" by the media, Hantuchova has repeatedly denied reports she is suffering from an eating disorder and again dealt with questions about her health following her defeat.

"Physically I'm feeling great," the 5-foot-11, 123-pound Hantuchova told reporters. "I'm working hard, I just have to keep doing the things I'm doing.

"We are talking a lot about mentally being stronger. I think I have done a pretty good job this summer and I feel like I'm on the right way back.

"I'm disappointed to lose so early in the US Open but I just have to keep working hard and try to learn from the things I haven't done well and move on."

Hantuchova, who was in tears during her second-round defeat at Wimbledon in June, looked on the verge of breaking down again as she was sent scurrying around centre court by Tamarine.

With her lower lip quivering, the Slovak looked to coach Nigel Sears in the stands but he could do nothing to ease her pain.

In the end Hantuchova maintained her composure and even managed a rare smile when Tamarine threw her arms in the air in celebration after holding serve for a 5-3 lead, believing she had won the match.

"That happens sometimes when you're focused on your game, you don't know what the score is," said Hantuchova.

"That just shows that she was really there in the match and she was fighting hard and being really focused. It was a funny situation."

First Published: Aug 30, 2003 09:48 IST