Consistency still a concern [Davenport article]
Consistency still a concern
Davenport cruises, but still searching
By RICK NELSON
April 9 2003
The Post and Courier
Lindsay Davenport looks the same -- perhaps even fitter -- with the same powerful baseline game and the same easy smile.
It makes sense that she wouldn't make any drastic changes at age 26. But after switching coaches twice, and losing six months to a knee injury, looks can be deceiving.
Davenport is searching for consistency, a prized commodity she owned not so long ago as the world's No. 1 player.
"It's something that, as a top player, you just have to have," she said.
"You might have maybe two bad tournaments a year, but other than that your 16 or 17 (other events) have to be good results."
Davenport won the Tokyo tournament in January and made the finals of three other events, but she lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, retired in the quarters at Key Biscayne and stumbled in her opening-round match at Scottsdale.
Those would be good results for most players, but not for someone with 38 championships, three Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.
Davenport looked sharp Tuesday in her first clay-court match in nearly three years, needing only 54 minutes to dispatch Daja Bedanova 6-0, 6-1 in the second round of the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. It was her first appearance in the tournament since 1998, when she lost for the third time in the quarterfinals.
Many in the sparse crowd were huddled under blankets or ponchos to escape the raw weather, but the conditions didn't seem to bother the third-seeded and fifth-ranked Davenport. She won 77 percent of her first-serve points and jumped all over Bedanova's second serves, winning 75 percent of them. She also had 37 winners, including seven aces, and committed just 13 unforced errors.
"I feel like I'm in the process of turning my game around, and feel a lot more confident and comfortable in the past few weeks than I have all year," she said.
The service numbers were particularly pleasing to Davenport, a big hitter who has struggled in that area this year. She practices her serve more than most players during warm-ups before matches, and has spent more time on it in practice.
"That's the one thing that's been missing a little bit, and I do feel like my game revolves around my serve," she said. "When I'm serving well, I feel more confident in my 'groundies.
"That doesn't mean it's back for good, but I'll still keep practicing to make sure one day it will be."
Davenport finished 2001 with the No. 1 ranking, but missed the first six months of 2002 after arthroscopic knee surgery. She showed no ill effects of the injury Tuesday, getting to drop shots that looked like sure winners and flicking them back over the net.
While the injury no longer appears to be an issue, Davenport has struggled with her consistency and her confidence since the departure last year of longtime coach, trainer and friend Robert Van't Hof. She hired Rick Leach, the older brother of her fianc? Jonathan Leach, but their working relationship was complicated by her romantic relationship with Jonathan.
"I think it was a little different for me in the beginning of the year switching coaches and trying something different, and unfortunately it just didn't work out," she said. "I felt like I needed to make a change sooner rather than later again because I had had such a successful and really great partnership before."
She has since hired former Southern Cal standout Adam Peterson. The matchup looks like a winner.
"This time it seems to be working a lot better," she said. "I think that we've progressed a lot in the last few weeks and really have made some steps forward again in my game."