Third seed Kuznetsova suffers early exit

NEW YORK Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:45am BST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia lost in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday, making a slew of errors to hand the match 6-3 6-7 6-3 to an aggressive Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia.

Kuznetsova, who clinched the 2004 title and was last year's runner up, was the second big name to tumble out of the tournament in two days. Top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia lost her second round match on Thursday.

Kuznetsova said 28th seed Srebotnik, who has never gone beyond the third round at the U.S. Open, had played an "unbelievable" game.

"She played her top game," Kuznetsova told reporters. "I didn't play bad. She just played her best game and I was not at my good level.

"I was fighting and I wanted so much to win that match. She served very well, she came to the net many times, she was more aggressive than I was."

The first set went with serve until the eighth game when a couple of errors from Kuznetsova handed 28th seed Srebotnik a break and a chance to serve for the set. She wrapped it up with a solid game including an ace, one of six in the first set.

Kuznetsova played a commanding tiebreak in the second, winning it 7-1, but stuttered again in the third set.

Srebotnik secured a break early in the third set and held her own serve to love. Serving for the match, she played aggressively, charging the net and winning on her third match point when Kuznetsova returned a serve high and long.

Srebotnik played consistently on every front and was helped by her 13 aces. Kuznetsova was erratic and threw the match away with 36 unforced errors.

"For me it's a special tournament, I wanted to play very well here," said Kuznetsova.

"She started coming in and I was not able to keep her back or come in myself."

Srebotnik's best result since turning professional in 1998 was reaching the fourth round at the French Open in 2002 and in 2008.

Kuznetsova's exit could ease the path to the semi-finals for fellow Russian Elena Dementieva, the fifth seed who defeated Anne Keothavong of Britain on Friday to reach the last 16.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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