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Defending Champion eliminated at US Open
(AP)
Updated: 2005-08-30 09:34

NEW YORK - Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first defending women's U.S. Open champion to be eliminated in the first round since the beginning of the open era on Monday, falling to 20-year-old Russian compatriot Ekaterina Bychkova 6-3, 6-2.

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia reacts during her match with Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia at the US Open tennis tournament in New York Monday Aug. 29, 2005.
Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia reacts during her match with Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia at the US Open tennis tournament in New York Monday Aug. 29, 2005.[AP]
The fifth-seeded Kuznetsova's departure follows Anastasia's Myskina's first-round exit in the French Open in May to Maria Sanchez Lorenzo and is the fourth time a defending women's champion in a Grand Slam was ousted in her first match.

Bychkova, a winner of three ITF developmental circuit tournaments, didn't get past the second round of the qualifying rounds at any of the Grand Slams earlier this year.

Kuznetsova, who has won only one tournament since her U.S. Open title last year in Bali, Indonesia, the week after the Open committed 45 unforced errors and was broken six times in the match.

"I just didn't play my game," said Kuznetsova, who indicated she was mentally fatigued and said she would take some time off without being specific. "I wanted it badly. It wasn't my day. Things weren't going my way. I was ready, but I was not at my best."

Bychkova, who said she grew up playing against Kuznetsova, didn't have a strategy for beating the defending champion.

"I didn't think during the match, just play and return balls," she said. "Serve, forehand, backhand and I tried not to think. I just stay 2 meters behind the baseline and try to return balls."

It was the second time a defending U.S. Open champion was beaten in the first round, and first since Patrick Rafter was defeated in 1999.
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