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Ivanovic denies gamesmanship accusations

By Simon Cambers

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serbia's Ana Ivanovic denied accusations that she used gamesmanship during her 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchova in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

A disappointed Hantuchova let slip a 6-0 2-0 lead and later criticised the fourth seed, saying the way she shuffled her feet before the server hits the ball, which results in loud squeaking, was off-putting and unfair.

"That was ridiculous, I think," Hantuchova told reporters.

"I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."

Hantuchova said she had complained to umpire Alison Lang.

"In the first or second service game (she told the umpire), but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that (the squeaking) was very nice."

But Ivanovic said she did not deliberately make a squeaking noise.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional," Ivanovic said.

"If you see other matches I was doing exactly the same thing. It's just the way these courts play. And if you listen to the guys I think they're doing the same thing.

"Once I saw she was complaining (to the umpire). But there was nothing I could do, because if I want to move my feet to return a ball, you know, this was the sound I was producing.

"And also, during the point, if I want to run with small steps around the ball, it was exactly the same thing. So maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."

Hantuchova gave Ivanovic little more than a cursory handshake at the end, having thought the Serbian had not got to the ball on the first bounce on the point that gave the fourth seed the vital break in the final set.

But the Slovakian, appearing in her first grand slam semi-final, said she was just disappointed with her defeat.

"It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible.

"I thought it was a double bounce, but maybe it was just my mistake. I should have played the point anyway."

Despite the defeat, Hantuchova said her run to the last four promised much for the rest of the year.

"In the days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," she said.

"I proved once again, to myself, that if I play my game I can beat anybody. It's just a matter of doing it for the whole match."

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I came here because I heard she was the next hot thing known for her good tennis and her hot looks off the court. After looking at the photos I must they're trying to turn anyone into the next hot thing. She's nice looking but I doubt she'll have Maria and Kournikova endorsement success.

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