Melbourne, Jan 25: A stunned Daniela Hantuchova hit out at Ana Ivanovic for being "unfair" after squandering her chance to make a first-ever grand slam final on Thursday.
The Slovak ninth seed rattled through the first set of their semi-final 6-0 in just 25 minutes and went 2-0 up in the second. But the young Serbian knuckled down and pulled off a sensational three-set victory. Hantuchova said she would bounce back from the disappointment, but was clearly annoyed with her opponent, offering only a cursory handshake at the end. In her press conference, the Slovak criticised Ivanovic's ploy of rapidly shuffling her feet just before receiving a serve, which makes a squeaking sound on the plexicushion hardcourt surface.
"That's ridiculous, I think. I was really surprised with that," she said.
"I think it's unfair, it's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."
Hantuchova said she complained to British umpire Alison Lang but nothing was done.
"(I complained) in the first or second service game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that was very nice."
Ivanovic denied it was a form of gamesmanship.
"I don't think so. If you see other matches I was doing exactly the same thing. It's just the way these courts play," she said.
"I saw she was complaining to the referee, but there was nothing I could do because if I want to move my feet to return a ball, this was the sound I was producing.
"Maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."
Aside from the squeaking, Hantuchova said she could not put her finger on exactly what went wrong, other than being hugely unlucky.
"If I knew that I would have changed it while I was still on the court. That's tennis," she said.
"Sometimes you can do all the right things, all the best things. Maybe you just need a little more luck to get through.
"Honestly, I thought I was very close. I had a great opportunity but it just didn't happen for me today."
Nevertheless, a Grand Slam semi-final appearance ended five years in the wilderness for Hantuchova, who has been through a barren spell that saw the 25-year-old slide from fifth to 54 in the world rankings.
She clawed her way back into the top 10 last year and finally made it back into the big-time in Melbourne this week.
While gutted at throwing away Thursday's match, she said she would look back on the tournament as a big step in the right direction.
"It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think with days to come, I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," she said.
"I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year.
"And, once again, it just showed me that if I do the right things I really belong to the top.
"Right now I think it's just a matter of time, doing more work, on a consistent basis, and hopefully I'll get more chances in a Grand Slam to break even further."