Navratilova thwarted in bid for US Open age mark | india | Hindustan Times
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Navratilova thwarted in bid for US Open age mark

Martina Navratilova, who failed in her bid for US Open history, called upon Serena and Venus Williams to play more events and tagged US Open winner Justine Henin-Hardenne their greatest threat.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2003 14:06 IST

Martina Navratilova, who failed in her bid for US Open history here on Sunday, called upon Serena and Venus Williams to play more events and tagged US Open winner Justine Henin-Hardenne their greatest threat.

Spain's Virginia Ruano-Pascual and Argentina's Paola Suarez beat Navratilova and Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3 to win the Grand Slam crown and deny the 46-year-old American legend her 59th Slam title.

"We're both disappointed we didn't play better," Navratilova said. "We could have played better. We should have played better. I felt like a kid. 'Hey I'm in a Grand Slam final'. Then I played like a little kid.

"They made us look bad but we also let them."

Navratilova, 46, would have been the oldest female US Open winner, breaking the age mark of Margaret Osborne duPont, who was 42 when she won the 1960 mixed doubles crown.

After her first US Open women's doubles final since 1990, Navratilova urged the Williams sisters, who played little more than minimal WTA schedules even before recent injuries kept them out of the Open, to do more to boost the game.

"We have the product. How you market it, that's another story," Navratilova said. "You have to somehow get them out there. Another key is for Serena and Venus Williams to play more. You have got to support the tour."

Navratilova praised Belgium's Henin-Hardenne, who added the US Open crown Saturday to her French Open title in June despite a three-hour semi-final win over Jennifer Capriati that left her fatigued and dehydrated.

"That was the most amazing effort I have ever seen, man or woman, on the court. That was just amazing," Navratilova said.

"She is the kind of player that can take it to Serena and Venus and make them do more instead of just relying on being fast and hitting the ball hard.

"She is the closest one. She has closed the gap. It's not closed yet but she definitely is a lot closer than she was a year ago."

The Williams sisters have dominated the WTA in recent seasons but their absence dimmed the US Open.

"I hope they play before the end of the year," Navratilova said. "Now there is obviously a big hole."

Belgium's top-ranked Kim Clijsters, who lost to he compatriot in the French and US finals, needs more faith in her game, Navratilova said.

"She doesn't go forward. She doesn't force the action," Navratilova said. "All things ebing equal, Henin will win four out of five matches because she has the extra dimension."

Capriati needs to play more instinctively, the veteran said, jabbing over the times the American was two points from victory only to lose to Henin-Hardenne.

"Jennifer gets too much into her head and doesn't let the body take over," Navratilova said. "Eleven times within two points of winning the match, you don't get to a match point? You know something is up.

"I don't care how great the other player is playing, you are allowing that to happen. Jennifer has had a hard time closing the deal."

India's Leander Paes, Navratilova's mixed doubles partner, is recovering after a virus that had doctors fearful he might have a brain tumor. Paes and Navratilova look to reunite in January at Melbourne.

"I'm planning on playing in Australia," she said. "He's out of the hospital. It will be a while before he's at full strength but we're definitely hoping to play in the Australian Open."