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Kirilenko concedes tennis payback more gentle than in NHL

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Maria Kirilenko got some revenge at the U.S. Open on Tuesday but admitted that evening up an old score in tennis was different than the sort of pay back action her hockey star boyfriend Alex Ovechkin endures.

"I think they're both tough, but different kind of tough," Russia's Kirilenko said in defending the rigors of professional tennis in comparison to professional ice hockey after her 6-1 6-1 thumping of Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the first round.

"(But) they have such tough guys playing there, they are not afraid of anything. Alex, he already broke his nose five times. We never broke our nose, so I think their sport is tougher."

Ovechkin, a forward for the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, was not on hand to cheer on the 14th-seeded Kirilenko as he was in Moscow as part of preparations for next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

He missed Kirilenko's 59-minute demolition of Wickmayer that avenged a three-set loss in the quarter-finals at Eastbourne leading up to Wimbledon.

Kirilenko, who met Ovechkin on practice Court Five two years ago at Flushing Meadows, said he would be able to come to New York to lend his support if she was able to stay alive into the second week of the championship.

Asked if she would return to Court Five, Kirilenko said: "I already did. I requested it."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)