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Tamarine Thai-es her Slam best with US Open upset

Tamarine Tanasugarn's victory was so nice that she celebrated it twice. The 26-year-old from Thailand upset ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2003 09:27 IST

Tamarine Tanasugarn's victory was so nice that she celebrated it twice.

The 26-year-old from Thailand matched her best Grand Slam showing here Friday, advancing to the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-2, 6-4 upset of ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova.

After fighting off the 20-year-old Slovakian's break attempt in the eighth game of the second set, Tamarine began jumping and laughing in celebration, thinking she had won the match with her crucial hold of serve.

Only moments later did Tamarine realize she had not won, but only taken a 5-3 lead.

"I am very embarassed," Tamarine said with a smile. "I was so focused. I thought that game was 5-4. I always think my service games are very important."

Tamarine's premature celebration was received with a standing ovation by an Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd delighted to see such a joyful moment.

"After that, I was really laughing at myself," she said. "I was having fun on myself, saying, 'If I win this match, I'm going to jump even more.'"

Two games later, after Hantuchova netted a forehand to end matters after 72 minutes, Tamarine began leaping for joy again, the job finally complete.

"In the last game I wasn't nervous. I just go hit the balls and stay aggressive," Tamarine said. "It was a tough match. For me the most important thing was to hold my serve. I thought that game was really important."

Hantuchova fought back tears after the eighth game, sensing her best chance to level had vanished, but later said she had no bad feelings about the moment.

"That happens sometimes when you are focused on your game," Hantuchova said. "It shows she was fighting so hard and very focused on her game. It was a funny situation."

Tamarine, who had never advanced past the third round in six prior trips to the Flushing Meadows hardcourts, booked a date in the round of 16 Sunday against fifth seed Amelie Mauresmo of France.

"It will be tough for her," Hantuchova said. "Amelie is playing very well and knows what she is doing in the Grand Slams. She will have to play very well to beat Amelie."

Mauresmo is 2-1 lifetime against Tamarine, whom she will face in a Slam for the third year in a row.

Tamarine beat Mauresmo in the third round at Wimbledon in 2001, what she called the only bigger victory than her latest, but lost to Mauresmo in the third round of last year's Australian Open and again this year at Indian Wells.

"Amelie is very tough and very strong," Tamarine said. "I'm just going to focus on playing my game and hopefully it will be a good match."

Tamarine made only four unforced errors in the first set compared to 19 for Hantuchova.

"This week I've had very good focus," Tamarine said. "The most important thing was to keep my focus. I tried to play aggressive and attack.

"I played well. I only got to the third round here before. I wanted to break my record. This match was really important."

Hantuchova, who beat Tamarine earlier this year at Sydney in their only prior meeting, hurt her cause with 33 unforced errors, but Tamarine swatted 23 winners past her as well.

"In the first set she was almost not missing at all," Hantuchova said. "I had a couple chances in the second set that I didn't use but she played well. I didn't play the way I wanted and she used her chances. She kept fighting. She deserved to win."

Together with Paradorn Srichaphan, the men's 11th seed who plays his third-round match here Saturday, Thai tennis has never been better.

"Tennis is Thailand is booming," Paradorn said. "We try to do a good job for our country, the Thai people. I feel really great."

First Published: Aug 30, 2003 09:27 IST