Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daniela Hantuchova

Daniela Hantuchová (born April 23, 1983) is a Slovak professional tennis player. She turned professional in 1999 and had her breakthrough year in 2002, when she won her first Tier I tournament and ended the year in the top ten. She is currently coached by Larri Passos. Her WTA Tour mentor in the "Partners for Success" program was Martina Navrátilová, who was her doubles partner for a brief period in early 2005. As of January 10, 2011, Hantuchová is ranked World No. 31 in singles. Hantuchová was born in Poprad, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) to father Igor, a computer scientist and mother Marianna, a toxicologist. When her parents split up in 2003, Hantuchová's performances temporarily worsened. At Wimbledon that year, failing to convert match points and weeping on court. She also suffered from a weight problem during this period. She was suspected of being anorexic, however Hantuchová denied this. Hantuchová speaks three languages (Slovak, English and German), and was trained as a classical pianist. She is thought to be a perfectionist and puts a lot of pressure on herself during her training. She qualified for university in Slovakia but deferred it to pursue tennis. She appeared in the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition alongside Maria Kirilenko and Tatiana Golovin in a pictoral entitled Volley of the Dolls.

Hantuchová started the year as the world number 38, being known as a new up-and-coming player, in the Gold Coast where she lost to World No. 7 Justine Henin in the second round in a three setter 1–6, 6–0, 6–3. After reaching the last 16, after qualifying, in Sydney, Hantuchová went on to play at the Australian Open losing in the third round to the second seed Venus Williams 3–6, 6–0, 6–4. After climbing the rankings to world number 26, having competed in Paris and Antwerp (reaching the round of 16 in both), she went into the prestigious Indian Wells event, defeating Justine Henin in the fourth round 6–3 6–3 and Martina Hingis in the final 6–3 6–4. She was the lowest ranked player of 26th (seeded 18th) to ever win the Tier I event. In Miami and Amelia Island Hantuchová went on to lose surprisingly in the second rounds. She then played in Charleston only to be beaten by again in the second round by 1995 Australian Open and 2000 French Open Champion, Mary Pierce 6–3, 6–4, Pierce being ranked 232. Playing in Fed Cup she won one of her two singles rubbers against Switzerland. Also in the clay season Hantuchová reached the quarterfinals in Hamburg and Berlin losing to Martina Hingis respectively in straight sets and Anna Smashnova 1–6, 6–2, 6–3. Having entered the French Open as the 11th seed and World No. 13 and losing her previous match in Rome in the first round, she beat Cara Black (after losing to her in Miami earlier in the year) only to lose to former champion Monica Seles in straight sets in the fourth round.

Daniela Hantuchova video

Hantuchová started 2003 solidly, reaching the quarterfinals at her first three events in Sydney, losing to Lindsay Davenport 6–4 3–6 7–6(3), Venus Williams 6–4 6–3 at the Australian Open (her third Slam quarterfinal in a row), and Elena Dementieva in Paris 7–5 6–3. Hantuchová reached her first semifinal of the year at her fourth event in Antwerp, losing to Williams again, 6–1 6–4. By then, Hantuchová's ranking was at a career high No. 5. Defending a title for the first time in her career, Hantuchová advanced to the fourth round in Indian Wells, losing to Amanda Coetzer 6–4 6–4. Despite a first round loss to Alicia Molik in Miami, Hantuchová rebounded in the Tier I Charleston event, making her fifth quarterfinal in seven events, losing to Ashley Harkleroad 6–2 6–1. She made her sixth quarterfinal at her next event in Amelia Island, losing to eventual champion Dementieva 6–0 6–1. Hantuchová went undefeated in first round Fed Cup play against Germany, winning both of her matches. Following Fed Cup, she again made it to the quarterfinals for the seventh time of the year at the Tier I Berlin tournament, losing to Kim Clijsters 6–0 6–3. At the French Open, Hantuchová lost in the second round in a marathon match to Harkleroad again 7–6(2) 4–6 9–7 making 101 unforced errors, leading to long-time coach Nigel Sears criticising her attitude publicly. Following the match, her extremely thin physique was noticed for the first time publicly and some wondered about Hantuchová's health. Kicking off the grass season in Eastbourne, Hantuchová lost in the quarterfinals to Conchita Martínez, but more famously she lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Shinobu Asagoe 0–6 6–4 12–10, with Hantuchová breaking down crying during the latter stages of the match in the midst of making 57 unforced errors. Some theorized that the media's continued interest regarding her weight and the pressure of success at 19 years of age, in addition to her on-court breakdown and her parents' divorce, her coach walked out during the middle of the match.

2004 proved to be a continuation of Hantuchová's poor second half of 2003, with many of the same struggles (she briefly hired Harold Soloman, who had previously coached her friend Jennifer Capriati as well as Anna Kournikova before re-hiring Sears in March), She reached just three quarterfinals, her first of which at the first Tier I event in Tokyo was not until halfway through the season. At Tokyo, however, she garnered her thus far only victory over Maria Sharapova in the second round, falling to Davenport 6–2 6–2 in the quarters. The tournament that saved her from a poor 2004 was Eastbourne, in which she defeated Ai Sugiyama in the quarterfinals 6–1 7–6(7) and Amélie Mauresmo in the semifinals 4–6 6–4 6–4 before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third final of her career, 2–6 7–6(2) 6–4. However, Hantuchová was serving for the championship, up 6–2 6–5, but got broken. Hantuchová was ranked No. 54 as she entered Eastbourne, but found herself ranked No. 38 as she went into Wimbledon, losing to eventual champion Sharapova in the third round 6–3 6–1. Hantuchová would make one more quarterfinal at New Haven, losing to Lisa Raymond 6–4 6–3. At the US Open one week later, Hantuchová lost in three sets to Patty Schnyder in the third round. She finished the year ranked No. 31, with a 24–24 win-loss record. She finished 1–4 against top 10 players overall, the sole victory over Mauresmo.

Hantuchová reached the third round of the Australian Open, losing to Dementieva in a tight three-setter, 7–5 5–7 6–4. Following that, she made her first quarterfinal of the year in Tokyo for the second straight year, losing to Kuznetsova 7–6(4) 7–6(4). At her next event she reached the semifinals in Doha, losing to Sharapova 6–2 6–4. Then she made another quarterfinal at her next tournament in Dubai, losing to Serena Williams 6–4 6–3; at Dubai also, in the first round, she garnered her 10th top 10 victory over No. 8 Alicia Molik 7–6(8) 6–2. Hantuchová made the third round at the French Open and Wimbledon, losing to Clijsters 6–4 6–2 in Paris and eventual champion Venus Williams 7–5 6–3 in England. Hantuchová had a successful US Open series run, where she reached the semifinals in Cincinnati, getting upset by No. 74 Akiko Morigami 6–4 6–4. After Cincinnati, in Stanford, Hantuchová lost to Clijsters in the quarterfinals 6–3 6–1. And after a second round loss in San Diego to Sugiyama, Hantuchová reached her fourth final in Los Angeles, getting a walkover in the quarterfinals over Sharapova, and got revenge against Dementieva in the semifinals, defeating her 6–3 6–4 (Hantuchová stands 2–0 against Dementieva in semifinals). In the final, for the seventh time in their head-to-head, Clijsters defeated Hantuchová 6–4 6–1. For the third time at the event, Hantuchová made the quarterfinals in New Haven, losing to Davenport 6–2 7–6(5). Hantuchová started 2006 when she reached the quarterfinals of Sydney with a win over top 10 player Patty Schnyder and got to the semifinals of Auckland. She continued this form at the Australian Open with her third round 6–1, 7–6 (5) victory over defending champion and seven-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, who had entered the tournament with a lack of match practice and questions over her fitness. This victory (the only over Serena in her career) ensured Daniela progressed to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in three years. She lost to 4th-seeded Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the fourth round. Thereafter she was unable to find a consistent level of form. She reached the fourth-round at the Australian Open, but prior to the clay court season she parted company for a second time (and permanently) with Sears. He was replaced by Angel Giminez. After the split with Sears she played her first Fed Cup matches for Slovakia in almost 3 years (Slovakia had slipped from being winners in 2003 to languishing in the Europe/Africa zone having being relegated every year in Hantuchová's absence). It was a successful return with Hantuchová winning her both singles and doubles matches against Luxembourg, her singles match against The Netherlands and the decisive singles rubber in the tie against Great Britain. With the help of Hantuchová's 4–0 record over the 6-day period Slovakia booked a place in the World Group II play-off against Thailand.

Hantuchová's first tournament of the year was at the Tier IV ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, where she lost in the second round to Virginie Razzano. Hantuchová then lost to Nicole Vaidišová in the first round of the Tier II New South Wales Open/Medibank International in Sydney and reached her second consecutive Australian Open fourth round, where she lost to World No. 5 Kim Clijsters 6–1, 7–5. Hantuchová was then upset in the first round of the Tier I Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo by Roberta Vinci. Three weeks later at the Tier II Dubai Tennis Championships, Hantuchová defeated Maria Kirilenko in the second round 2–6, 6–4, 7–6(4) before losing her quarterfinal match against Amélie Mauresmo in three sets. The following week at the Tier II Qatar Total Open in Doha, Hantuchová trailed World No. 6 Martina Hingis in their quarterfinal match 4–1 in the second set before coming back to win 1–6, 6–4, 6–4. She then lost her semifinal match against World No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova. In her seventh tournament of the year, Hantuchová won six matches, the last four of which were upsets of higher seeded players, to win the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California. She upset Hingis in the fourth round, Shahar Pe'er in the quarterfinals 6–2, 5–7, 7–6(5), Li Na in the semifinals, and Kuznetsova in the final in straight sets. Hantuchová played five tournaments during the North American summer hard court season. She began the US Open Series by losing to Chakvetadze in the semifinals of the Tier II Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California. This result put her back in the top 10. At the Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego, she lost to World No. 16 Venus Williams in the second round. The following week at the Tier II JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles, Hantuchová retired from her third round match with Elena Dementieva while trailing 6–3, 4–1. Hantuchová once again fell out of the top 10 after losing in the second round of the Tier II Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, Connecticut to eventual runner-up Ágnes Szávay. At the US Open, Hantuchová was the ninth-seeded player but lost to Ukraine's Julia Vakulenko in the first round 6–4, 3–6, 6–1. It was Hantuchová's earliest loss at this tournament since her debut in 2001 and her earliest loss at a Grand Slam tournament since the 2004 French Open.

Hantuchová started the year at the Medibank International in Sydney. She defeated Russian Dinara Safina in the first round before eventually losing to World No. 12 Czech Nicole Vaidišová in the second round. At the Australian Open, Hantuchová reached her first Grand Slam semifinal. She won her first three matches without losing a set. In the quarterfinals, she beat Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska, who had defeated second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova in earlier rounds. Hantuchová then lost to Ana Ivanović in a semifinal 0–6, 6–3, 6–4 despite Hantuchová leading the match 2–0 in the second set. After the match, Hantuchová claimed that Ivanović had been distracting her by squeaking her shoes on the court before serving, a claim Ivanović disputed. Hantuchová's performance at this tournament caused her Women's Tennis Association ranking to improve one spot to World No. 8. Hantuchová then played two indoor tournaments in Europe. At the Open Gaz de France in Paris, she lost to seventh-seeded Ágnes Szávay of Hungary in the quarterfinals. She was the third-seeded player at the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, where she again reached the quarterfinals. A blister on her right hand caused Hantuchová to retire during the quarterfinal against Timea Bacsinszky.Hantuchová was then scheduled to play at the Qatar Total Open, the first Tier I event of the year, and the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, a Tier II event, but withdrew from both because of fatigue. Hantuchová played both of the two-week Tier I events in the United States. At the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Hantuchová was the defending champion and fifth seed. She lost to fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. In doubles, Hantuchová and Ai Sugiyama lost in the semifinals to Safina and Elena Vesnina, the eventual champions. At the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Hantuchová failed to reach the fourth round in this event for the ninth consecutive year. She lost to former doubles partner Sugiyama in the third round 6–4, 6–7(8), 7–5 despite leading 3–0 in the third set. In doubles, Hantuchová partnered with Lindsay Davenport to reach the quarterfinals where they lost to Sugiyama and Katarina Srebotnik, who went on to win the event.

Hantuchová began the 2009 tour by participating in the Brisbane International as the tournament's fourth-seeded player. She was upset in the first round by Sara Errani 6–7(1), 6–4, 6–0. Hantuchová then played the Medibank International in Sydney where she lost in the second round to sixth-seeded Agnieszka Radwańska.At the Australian Open in Melbourne, the first Grand Slam event of the year, Hantuchová was seeded nineteenth and defeated home favourite Casey Dellacqua in their first round match 7–6(11), 6–4, she then beat Mathilde Johansson of France in the second round before losing to fifteenth-seeded Alizé Cornet of France in the third round 4–6, 6–4, 6–2. In the doubles competition, Hantuchová and her partner Ai Sugiyama made it to the final, where they lost to Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams. Hantuchová started the 2010 tour by competing at the Brisbane International. Seeded fourth, Hantuchová was upset by unseeded Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals 6–4, 6–2. At the Medibank International in Sydney, Hantuchová fell to No. 5 seed and eventual champion Elena Dementieva in the second round 6–2, 4–6, 6–2. Seeded 22nd at the Australian Open, Hantuchová fell to 16th seed and eventual semifinalist Li Na in the third round 7–5, 3–6, 6–2. Hantuchová defeated Zhang Shuai 6–0, 6–1 in the Fed Cup tie against China in Bratislava, Slovakia prior to the Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, UAE. In Dubai, Hantuchová upset No.5 seed Dementieva through retirement after winning the first set 6–4. However, she fell to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round 6–3, 6–4. Hantuchová was seeded No. 2 at the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico. She became one of the favorites after No. 1 seed Jelena Janković fell in the first round. Hantuchová fought from a set down to beat unseeded Vania King 2–6, 6–2, 6–1 in the quarterfinals and No. 4 seed Dominika Cibulková 4–6, 6–3, 6–0 in the semifinals. However she fell to No. 3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the finals 1–6, 6–1, 6–0. It was Hantuchová's first final since Linz in 2007. Hantuchová was upset at the BNP Paribas Open by Roberta Vinci in the second round after injuring her back during training earlier that day. At the Sony Ericsson Open she gained a career best in Miami reaching the fourth round after recording straight set victories over Patty Schnyder and No. 16 seed Nadia Petrova, but lost a very tight three set match to No. 3 seed and eventual finalist Venus Williams 1–6, 7–5, 6–4 in nearly three hours. Hantuchová withdrew from her first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International due to a left Achilles strain. She was healthy enough to compete at the Medibank International Sydney but suffered a loss to María José Martínez Sánchez in the first round 6–2, 6–4. At the Australian Open she was the 28th seed, but lost in the first round to Regina Kulikova in an epic three-setter, 7–5, 3–6, 9–7. This is the first time Hantuchová has lost in the first round of the Australian Open, bar her first appearance.

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