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NOTEBOOK



Published: Thu, January 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



NOTEBOOK

Australian Open

Kuznetsova finds refuge: Svetlana Kuznetsova found a brief refuge Wednesday from the doping questions hounding her at the Australian Open. For 40 minutes, the reigning U.S. Open champion pounded tennis balls past Marion Bartoli of France, hitting 31 winners and seven aces in a 6-2, 6-0 second-round victory. The fifth-seeded Russian then signed autographs for a few minutes. As she started walking off, it all started coming back -- the anger and frustration over Belgian regional sports minister Claude Eerdekens' announcement that Kuznetsova tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine during an offseason charity event. Ephedrine -- a common ingredient in cold medicine -- is on the banned list during competition, but it's not off-limits during the offseason. Kuznetsova and tennis officials have criticized Eerdekens, who was unapologetic and said he did tennis a favor by striking a blow for transparency in the fight against doping.

Federer's streak: Roger Federer matched his longest winning streak -- 23 matches, also accomplished last season -- by beating Japanese qualifier Takao Suzuki 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. Suzuki threw a bit of a scare into the Swiss star, though, breaking Federer's serve for a 3-2 lead in the first set. Federer broke right back, then again for a 5-3 edge. Two minutes later, Suzuki's backhand floater went wide and the first set went to Federer. In the second set, Federer broke to take a 5-4 lead with the shot of the match. Suzuki slid a cross-court volley that Federer chased down and returned around -- not over -- the net post for a winner.




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