NOTEBOOK



NOTEBOOK
From Melbourne
Gaining confidence: Lleyton Hewitt found his net game. He's still looking for his serve. The former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, trying to come back from injury and off-court distractions, failed to land more than half his first serves and double-faulted a dozen times Thursday on his way to a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win against Australian Open rookie Frank Dancevic. "I just didn't serve great," Hewitt said. "When I got my first serve in, I took care of it. My second serve just wasn't there today. It's disappointing, [but] it's nice to come through those matches even when not everything's clicking either. I was able to find a way."
Remarkable Russia: Russian players are doing well at the moment, but there's nothing in the country's water and no secret boot camp to explain the explosion of talent, says Maria Sharapova. Four Russian women finished 2006 ranked in the top 10, and five of the top 10 seeded players at the Australian Open are from the country. Sharapova is top-seeded and ranks No. 2 in the world. The weight of numbers will be felt today when five Russians are due to appear in center court's six matches, including one pitting Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Kirilenko against each other. Sharapova said the Russian surge began in 2004, when Anastasia Myskina's French Open win was followed by her own Wimbledon title and Kuznetsova's victory in the U.S. Open. "There's not one secret potion to how we're doing so well," said Sharapova, who steamrolled another Russian, Anastassia Rodionova 6-0, 6-3 to reach the third round. "If you look at all the girls, basically all of them are developing their games in different parts of the world. Some are in Russia, some in Spain, some in the States. It's not like they're bundled up and go to Siberia and hide away from everyone and train. Everyone does their own thing in their own different ways and it works."
Associated Press
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