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Upset for Alicia but not Evie

Friday, 31 August, 2001

NEW YORK, Aug 30 AAP - Australia's Alicia Molik came back from the brink of elimination to post one of her finest career wins at the US Open tennis championships today. The 68th-ranked South Australian upset 15th seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria 6-3 3-6 6-3 to set up a third round meeting with another top 20 player, 19th seeded Austrian Barbara Schett.

But there was no follow-up upset from Molik's compatriot Evie Dominikovic. The 67th-ranked Sydneysider was crushed by second seed Jennifer Capriati 6-2 6-0 in a torrid introduction to centre court. Molik is now the only Australian woman left of the four who had entered singles. She had appeared to also be heading out of the tournament when, after squandering a strong start, she was down 3-1 in the third set against Maleeva. But the lanky Australian Fed Cup representative dug deep to win the next five games on end, breaking the wilting Maleeva serve twice and lifting her own, with an ace on her second match point indicative of her form.

Molik's win means she matched her grand slam best of a third round berth at both the French Open in 1999 and last year's Australian Open. Following her defeat of world No.30 Chanda Rubin in the first round in Los Angeles, it also marked her second win over a top 30 player in less than a month. "It proves that I'm playing some of my best tennis," she said. "When I'm beating those players, I don't see much difference between myself and them, even though I'm ranked in the 60s. I hope to be ranked where they are - sooner or later."

Molik said the key to her victory in steamy conditions on court six today was switching on her aggression late in the match. When down 3-1 she held serve to love and then reaped the rewards for attacking Maleeva's serve. "It was just a matter of a lapse in concentration to get down 3-1," she said. "The only way to win was to come back aggressively. So I just went out there and played with that game plan, and it paid off."

Molik has lost both her matches against Schett - by 6-1 6-1 in the Fed Cup two years ago and 7-6 6-2 in the first round of last year's Olympics. "I'll have to do what I've been doing - playing my game, worrying about what I need to do and playing my aggressive style of tennis," she said.

Dominikovic had stretched Capriati to three sets at their only previous match, in the first round of the 1999 Australian Open, with the American finally winning 8-6 in the third. But, as Dominikovic noted this week, that was well before the famous resurgence which took Capriati to her first two grand slam titles this year, in Melbourne and at the French Open. Today it was a one-sided affair with Capriati in charge from the outset. The American wrapped up the victory in just 50 minutes against Dominikovic, who was never allowed to hit her top form in a fiery baptism at Flushing Meadows' main stadium.