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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 10:03 GMT
Hantuchova knocked out
Daniela Hantuchova
Hantuchova struggled against Molik
Daniela Hantuchova bowed out of the Australian Open after another dismal defeat.

The Slovakian 15th seed, a quarter-finalist last year, lost 6-4 6-3 to home favourite Alicia Molik.

Hantuchova started well and led 4-1 at one stage but Molik eventually got into her stride.

The Australian rattled off six games in a row to take the first set and never looked in any danger after that as Hantuchova's confidence disappeared.

After reaching the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year Hantuchova rose to fifth in the world, but the rest of 2003 proved something of a disaster.

Physically this time I'm absolutely fine and I don't want to talk about this anymore
Daniela Hantuchova
She slipped outside the world's top 20 and, with constant off-court questions asked about her weight, was at times brough to tears on court.

The 20-year old split with her British coach Nigel Sears towards the end of the year but has yet to rediscover her form.

"I had some tough matches last year, some close ones that I lost and that definitely didn't help my confidence," said Hantuchova.

"But that's tennis and you have to learn how to deal with it. It's the same in life, things go up and down and hopefully it'll make me a stronger player."

Hantuchova refused to answer further questions about her weight.

"Physically this time I'm absolutely fine and I don't want to talk about this anymore," she said.

"But mentally there are still many things I have to learn. I think I have learnt a lot from last year and I feel I'm a little stronger this year and I have matured a little.

"After last year I felt like I needed a rest to get away from tennis and start all over again so I know there's still a lot of work to do."



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