Krasnoroutskaya ready for big breakthrough
Russian teenager Lina Krasnoroutskaya enjoyed the best form of her young tennis career last week, beating world number one Kim Clijsters to reach the final of the $1.3 million Canadian Open.
That sparkling seven days has convinced her she is now ready to move on to bigger and better things.
"No doubt, it was the best week for me this year and possible in my whole career," Krasnoroutskaya told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York, where she is preparing for the U.S. Open.
"I think last week I surprised quite a few people, including myself, with my play. Looking back, maybe one week in 2001, when I made the French Open quarter-final, was as good as this one."
Despite being no match for another Belgian, Justine Henin-Hardenne, in the Toronto final, losing to the French Open champion 6-1 6-0, the 19-year-old was pleased with her effort.
"I had a great ride to the final, but against Justine I was too tired because I had already played eight matches, both in singles and doubles, prior to that," she said.
"But I can't complain and now I'm looking to build on that success with more good play."
Krasnoroutskaya's heroics in Toronto saw her world ranking soar to number 27 on the WTA Tour and she is the 26th seed at the U.S. Open, which starts on Monday.
Krasnoroutskaya, who missed most of last year with a serious ankle injury, said beating Clijsters had been a great morale booster for her.
"She is the number one in the world right now, so it definitely helped my confidence," the Russian said.
"After a win like that, you feel like you can not just compete with the best players, but can beat them as well."
Krasnoroutskaya has been touted as Russia's next big hope after being ranked number one in the world in juniors in 1999 when she was U.S. Open girls champion. But she struggled to make a smooth transition to the senior level.
"It's a completely different game, and it's not easy to make a switch to women's tennis right away," she said. "Some players make that transition quicker than others. In my case, it took a bit longer, but now I think I have made a fine adjustment."
Despite her recent success, Krasnoroutskaya said it would be very tough to break into the Russian Fed Cup team.
"There are so many good Russian girls playing on the tour, we have five players in the top 20 at the moment, so it's almost impossible to make the Fed Cup team," she said.
"We could field two or three good teams if we really wanted.
"Making the Russian team is a long shot for me right now, so I don't give it much thought at the moment. Although one day, I would love to play for my country."
Krasnoroutskaya has returned to the family pen after ending a two-year partnership with coach Larissa Neiland last year.
The player had been coached by her parents since an early age as her family moved to Obninsk, a small town 100 km south of Moscow, from the Crimean city of Kerch which is now a part of Ukraine.
"My parents know me better than anyone else, we have a good relationship off the court and, I think, it has helped improve my game," she said.