LONDON (Reuters) - First Alla Kudryavtseva thrashed her vastly more famous and spectacularly more rich compatriot Maria Sharapova, then she really put the boot in by criticising her dress sense.
The 20-year-old Russian produced the shock of the championships so far to beat former champion Sharapova 6-2 6-4, far and away the biggest achievement of her tennis career, and her glee was undisguised when she spoke to reporters.
“It’s very pleasant to beat your...you know, Maria,” world number 154 Kudryavtseva told reporters with a mischievous smile on her face. “It’s a big deal for me. It’s a big match.”
Asked to explain exactly why, she said: “Why? Well, I don’t like her outfit. Can I put it this way? It’s a little too much of everything, of the same thing. It was one of the motivations to beat her.”
Kudryavtseva, the daughter of a world champion Greco-Roman wrestler and a lover of classical Russian literature, answered questions as expertly as she had earlier dispatched the tuxedo-wearing Sharapova who she said only started saying hello to her after a recent Fed Cup match.
“I’m not very good in fashion. I don’t know the trends,” Kudryavtseva said, adding that she disliked the obsession with what the women players wear on to court.
“She experiments and I give her credit for that. She’s brave enough to experiment. That’s my personal opinion. Maybe someone will tell me I dress terribly.
“If I’m not afraid to go play her and she’s the world number three, I’m not afraid she’s going to catch me in the dressing room and say, ‘You know what, you said you don’t like my outfit. You were wrong.’””
Kudryavtseva, who like Sharapova trains in Miami, said Thursday’s victory banished the frustration of last year’s Wimbledon when she came within a couple of points of beating eventual champion Venus Williams in the first round.
She said she has learnt valuable lessons from that defeat.
“I still remember it because before today it was the biggest match of my career,” she said. “I was up in the second set and I had some easy shots and I decided to make a high percentage shot. I ended up losing.
“Today I just went for my shots. I missed a couple very long and very ugly. Then I thought, OK, at least I went for it. Sooner or later it has to go in.”
Kudryavtseva now faces China’s Shuai Peng hoping to better the third round she reached at last year’s French Open when she lost to Sharapova. At least on that occasion she said she liked what her opponent was wearing.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Clare Lovell