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Wimbledon 

Richard Lewis, The Sunday Times, 1 juli 2007

Krajicek takes familiar path

The Dutch player has more pressure than most as she strives to reach the quarter-finals and live up to her name

It could have been one of the most extraordinary double acts in Wimbledon history: the 1996 men’s champion with the half-sister who is almost half his age. But first Michaella Krajicek sustained an injury and then it was her more famous brother Richard who had to bow to his creaking bones.

Still, they have not given up hope - even though he retired from the sport in 2003 - but should the pair get it together on the famous lawns of SW19, Little Kraai, as she is fondly known, will take to the court with a reputation which is growing match by match.

Naturally not quite to the level of her brother, who won the men’s title with a straight-sets defeat of Malivai Washington 11 years ago, a match of great significance because it interrupted the reign of Pete Sampras.

But whenever she plays, you do not need to be a tennis aficionado to know the background. Equally, it is understandable that the pressure will grow on her the quicker she progresses up the rankings, though she made sure she dealt with that here at Wimbledon when she played in the junior championships four years ago when she was 14.

“I just kept thinking, ‘It’s Wimbledon, it’s Wimbledon’, and it was all too much,” she said. “Because my brother won here it put a bit of pressure on me and I couldn’t really play my best. Wimbledon is very special but I am trying to treat it as just another big tournament.”

But when she broke onto the scene, she could not escape the name. When she competed in her first WTA tournament in 2003 in the Netherlands, the expectation was huge.

She said: “I was 14 and everybody was like, ‘I think you can win a few rounds’. But they just don’t know how difficult it is to win the first round. The whole stadium was full. All the people were there and cameras and everything. I was really nervous then I lost so badly.” She is here for her second Wimbledon in the main tournament. Twelve months ago she was knocked out in the first round but her progress has seen her seeded No 31 and tomorrow - weather permitting - she will meet American Laura Granville in round four.

Her status has grown after she beat Russia’s No 8 seed Anna Chakvetadze in the previous round after previously ending domestic hopes in the women’s tournament with a 6-0 6-1 defeat of British No 1 Katie O’Brien.

Now is the time for Krajicek to make her own mark, even though it was not solely the achievements of her brother which took her into the game.

Richard is 35. Michaella and him have the same father and though she represents the Netherlands where she lives, they are of Czech descent.

She lives in Almere in the north of the Netherlands, a country which became their home after their father Petr emigrated there to escape the revolution of 1968.

Richard now advises her, though she is hardly living in his shadow.

Krajicek progressed to the become the world’s No 1 junior in 2004 and her highest ranking on the WTA tour was 33 last month.

The third round seems to have been her stumbling block after she failed to progress further than that stage both at the French Open in Paris last month and at the Australian Open in Melbourne last year.

But there is no doubt that she is in the form of her life and she remains one of the best outsiders to carry on what she has achieved here so far.

She is on her way, still harbouring hopes of playing alongside her brother in the doubles here one year but for now progressing alone. With a powerful serve, and a champion in her family, she has a stature which could take her a long way.

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