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Molik finds motivation

NEW YORK AUSTRALIAN

Alicia Molik would love to see Barbara Schett eat her words when the pair meet in the third round of the US Open.

Molik, ranked 68, came back from the brink of elimination to post one of her finest career wins on Thursday, rallying from 3-1 down in the third set to beat 15th-seeded Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva 6-3 3-6 6-3.

While Molik was able to produce an upset to equal her best grand slam progress, her friend and Fed Cup teammate Evie Dominikovic came nowhere near a boilover in her second round match against Jennifer Capriati, losing 6-2 6-0.

For Austrian Schett, the prospect of facing Molik was obviously not a point of concern.› When told Molik was her next opponent, the 19th seed raised her eyebrows and exclaimed: "Alicia Molik?"

Obviously surprised the South Australian had beaten Maleeva, Schett said of Molik: "I think she has improved and is more consistent, but she can get very tight when she's leading, or when there's a crucial point.

"She can get very nervous. I've seen that a few times."

Schett, who has beaten Molik in straight sets both times they have met, offered what may have been interpreted as a backhanded compliment to the young› Australian over her serve.

"It's hard to get into a rhythm against her because she hits a few aces and then she misses," Schett said.

Molik was clearly spurred by Schett's contention that she had a tendency to choke at key moments.

"I feel that in the past couple of weeks especially, that's probably been the strongest part of my game - that I've been hitting out on those points," said Molik, who rated her win over Maleeva as one of her best.

"I hope to be doing that against her.

"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."

Molik, also a third round contestant at the French Open in 1999 and last year's Australian Open, has lost both her matches against Schett - 6-1 6-1 in the Fed Cup two years ago and 7-6 6-2 in the first round of the Olympics.

Dominikovic had stretched Capriati to three sets at their only previous match, in the first round of the 1999 Australian Open, but that was well before the famous resurgence which took Capriati to her first two grand slam tournament titles this year, in Melbourne and at the French Open.

September 01, 2001 -AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS