Kuznetsova retires injured in Zurich quarter-final

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ZURICH, Oct 19 (Reuters) World number two Svetlana Kuznetsova became the latest big name casualty at the Zurich Open when she retired from her quarter-final match with Italy's Francesca Schiavone trailing 3-6 3-3 today.

The Russian was the sixth of the eight seeds to exit early and the third top 10 player to retire injured this week.

''It's not that serious, I just need some time off because the muscle was getting very tired and I couldn't lift my arm up,'' said Kuznetsova, who received on-court treatment on her right shoulder at the end of the first set.

Against an opponent she had beaten seven times in nine meetings, Kuznetsova looked in good shape in the early stages.

But after breaking to take a 3-1 lead her troubles began as three dropped service games allowed Schiavone to cruise ahead.

The treatment on her shoulder seemed to bring Kuznetsova some relief, enabling her to break ahead once more at the start of the second set.

However, an immediate break back by Schiavone saw the Russian wilting again and she finally retired four games later.

''In the second set I could get it together but I was thinking, 'What's the point?''' said Kuznetsova.

''If I had won the second set I wouldn't have been able to finish the match, or if I had I wouldn't have been able to play tomorrow.

''I've learned lessons from the past when I never wanted to pull out of matches. Now I've learned to listen to my body.'' EARLY DEPARTURES World number one Justine Henin and French ninth seed Marion Bartoli -- both due in action later today -- are now the only seeds remaining in the draw.

Originally boasting 14 of the world's top 20 and seven of the top 10, the Zurich tournament has been hit by the early departures of most of its top players.

Serbian world numbers three and four, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, lost their opening matches, as did American sixth seed Serena Williams.

Williams, who reached the final of last week's Kremlin Cup, retired with a thigh muscle injury during her first round match against Switzerland's Patty Schnyder.

Unseeded world number 10 Elena Dementieva, who beat Williams in that final, was forced to pull out with a similar injury during her first round meeting with Schiavone.

''We do all take care and we want to play less,'' Kuznetsova said when asked about the large number of late-season injuries.

''But we also have commitments, and I had committed to play this tournament. There is probably only Justine (Henin) and Maria (Sharapova) who play fewer tournaments than I do. But tennis is very powerful now and it takes a lot out of you.'' REUTERS BRJ RN2228

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