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Thursday, September 2, 2004
Myskina still not over devastating loss

By David Boroff
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Anastasia Myskina's surprising exit from the U.S. Open took place on Thursday. But in actuality, the loss took place on Aug. 20.

On that date in Athens, Myskina had a 5-1 lead in the third set against Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Olympic semifinals. Myskina was just a few points away from assuring herself of a medal.

However, Henin-Hardenne stormed back to win the match 7-5, 5-7, 8-6 in just under three hours. The next day, she won gold.

Myskina, still reeling from the defeat, lost the bronze-medal match to Alicia Molik as well and finished fourth in the tournament. She would not get to represent Russia on the medal stand.

Myskina was devastated by the loss to Henin-Hardenne. "I'm really, really upset," she said at the time. "If you're up 5-1, you have to finish the match, no matter what."

The loss is still with her now, and may be with her for a while. It certainly had a major impact in her stunning 7-6 (3), 6-3 loss to Anna Chakvetadze on Thursday. She admitted as much.

"When I was here the first few days, I was still crying about this match against Justine," Myskina said after her Open ouster. "But if you're here, you have to think about the U.S. Open. Maybe that was my mistake, still thinking about Athens."

Ironically, Henin-Hardenne is still feeling the impact of Athens as well, but in a different way. She also struggled in her second-round match on Thursday -- but the difference is she survived. Despite making 47 unforced errors, she beat Tzipora Obziler 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Henin-Hardenne played six matches in 11 days in Greece, sweeping her way to the women's singles gold. Before the Olympics, she had played just one match in four months due to a viral infection. Myskina also played six singles matches in Athens, and played one doubles match as well.

"I can tell you it's not easy coming from Europe, coming from Athens," Henin-Hardenne said. "Really tough conditions. A big tournament, the Olympics. It's something different. Different kind of experience. And then a week after you play again in a Grand Slam. A lot of pressure. It's a very different atmosphere. I can see most of the players are having problems. But maybe it's only the beginning of the tournament. I hope we're going to get better soon."

"I think for Justine, she's a tough girl," Myskina said of Henin-Hardenne. "I think she's going to be OK. But it's going to be a really tough match against any of the top players for her, especially because she didn't play a lot of matches (before the Olympics). But maybe that's going to be also an advantage because she's not as tired as let's say even Lindsay (Davenport) playing four tournaments before the U.S. Open or some of the other top players. You never know. But I think Justine's a tough girl, so she's going to be OK."

Myskina can attest to that after Henin-Hardenne's comeback in Athens.

"My goal was an Olympic medal, for sure," Myskina said. "But I gave a lot of energy. I fought that match (in Athens) and I gave everything I had. I guess maybe it took a lot of energy and I'm not really able to recover after that match."

David Boroff is an editor at ESPN.com.