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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Russian women flourishing

Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia – No one has to say the Russians are coming. They’re already here.

Seven of the final 16 women at the Australian Open are from Russia, including Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova, French Open winner Anastasia Myskina and U.S. Open victor Svetlana Kuznetsova. It could have been nine, but two others lost Saturday.

A cadre of Russian media follow them, and fans wave flags and shout encouragement in Russian, which seems to have become the second language in Melbourne.

“It’s pretty remarkable how many players that they do have in the top 15,” top-ranked Lindsay Davenport said. “I don’t know if that will be repeated any time soon.

“It seems like they all have kind of come into their own in the last 12 months, and they’ve all improved in ranking and they’ve all improved their game.”

At the top right now is third-seeded Myskina, the first to win a Grand Slam event.

Right behind, seeded fourth, is Sharapova, the 17-year-old Wimbledon champion who doubles as a fashion model.

Fifth-seeded Kuznetsova, 19, seems to be the most shy of the group. While Elena Dementieva, 23, rounds out the upper echelon.

Also in the mix were 11th-seeded Nadia Petrova, whose ranking has jumped from 111th at the end of 2002, and unseeded Vera Douchevina and Evgenia Linetskaya.

Kuznetsova advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight-set victory over Douchevina, while Linetskaya dropped her fourth-round match to France’s Amelie Mauresmo in straight sets.

Argentina well-represented

David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open, setting up an all-Argentine showdown at Melbourne Park.

Compatriot Guillermo Canas also advanced to the last 16, the first time three Argentine players have progressed that far at the Australian Open in the Open era. The number could have been four, but Juan Ignacio Chela fell to third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.

Reynolds’ run ends

Bobby Reynolds’ unlikely run at the Australian Open ended Saturday.

The 22-year-old American intended to play in Brazil the first week of January, but was turned down for a business visa. So he came to Melbourne instead and won three matches in the qualifying tournament, then two more in the main draw to advance to the third round.

On Saturday, he was beaten by Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

“I’m really pleased with the way I played,” Reynolds said. “If you told me a few weeks ago that I would have won three matches in qualifying and two in the main draw of a Grand Slam, I would have taken them right then and there.”

Metrosexual statements

Serena and Venus Williams have made fashion statements on the court with their dress designs. At the Australian Open, Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Feliciano Lopez of Spain are doing their best on the men’s side, wearing three-quarter-length pants.

Andy Roddick is certain he won’t join that trend.

Roddick was asked after his straight-sets win over Jurgen Melzer whether the new male fashion statement was a “little too metrosexual.”

“You said it, I didn’t,” said Roddick, laughing. “I can’t think of anything funny to say that would not get me in trouble. I’m going to leave that one alone.”

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