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Nadia Petrova will stay on the Gold Coast
FRUSTRATED Uncle Tobys Hardcourts runner-up Nadia Petrova will stay on the Gold Coast for a few days of treatment on her lower back in a bid to save her Australian Open campaign. On Saturday, Petrova had dismissed a sacroiliac joint problem as a minor muscular strain to her buttock which slowed her movement in the third set of her 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss to Japan's Ai Sugiyama in the final at Royal Pines resort. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum, the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine, with the pelvis. Petrova, upset by her inability to win a maiden WTA Tour title, told reporters after a long treatment session on Saturday that she would be able to play at the Australian Open. But it is known Petrova will seek treatment from a Gold Coast physiotherapist this week and is privately less certain she will be able to compete at Melbourne Park. Two years ago, the talented Russian retired with an arm strain from a Gold Coast semi-final when she was pressing reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and subsequently pulled out of the Australian Open. Petrova led Sugiyama 4-1 in the third set of their 99-minute final, but did not win a game after she called for a trainer at 4-3, saying she was unable to run. Sugiyama likened runner-up Petrova's ongoing search for a maiden tour title to Anna Kournikova's ill-fated efforts to rack up a win in a final. Kournikova even resorted to $US25,000 challenger-level events last year in a bid to gain some form and any kind of title win before giving up. "If you tried to think about, like, Anna Kournikova, she hasn't won any titles and you put pressure on yourself to win the title. That makes it tougher I think," Sugiyama said. The first round at Sydney's adidas International tomorrow will feature the past two Gold Coast winners, Sugiyama and France's Nathalie Dechy, in an event which boasts a women's ranking cut-off of No. 23. Eleni Daniilidou, of Greece, beat American Ashley Harkleroad 6-3, 6-2 yesterday to become the first player in 15 years to defend the singles title at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The third-seeded Daniilidou took one hour and nine minutes to claim her third title on the WTA Tour and improve her world ranking to 23. The last back-to-back winner of the Auckland event was American Patty Fendick in 1988 and 1989. Daniilidou won five straight games from 3-1 down to take the first set 6-3 before sweeping through the second set to comfortably beat Harkleroad, playing her first tournament final. "I'm a little bit surprised to have won again," Daniilidou said. "I didn't expect it but I gave 100 per cent to each match and the results came."
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