another article from AO site
Rejuvenated Davenport Excited Over 2006
by Amanda Buivids
Sunday, 15 January, 2006
Lindsay Davenport experienced her most consistent year in 2005, claiming the world No.1 mantle for the second consecutive year, snatching six titles, and twice coming close to capturing her fourth piece of Grand Slam silverware.
Although she did not win a Slam, the tour veteran is as enthusiastic as ever to better her achievements of 12 months ago when she reached the Australian Open final.
A few niggling injuries, grappling with retirement, switching coaches; age has certainly not dampened the fighting spirit of the 29-year-old Californian.
"I feel really good. I've had a great six or seven weeks at home and was able to work pretty hard," Davenport said.
"I've been here a little over a week and feel ready to go. I'm excited to be able to finally get out there and play and look forward to hopefully a good tournament."
The imposing 189cm right-hander became only the fourth player in tour history - behind Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles - to finish year-end world No.1 on four or more occasions. She has achieved the feat in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005.
Late last year she called on the services of a new coach in David Dilucia - a long time friend and former player - to assist in fine-tuning her game.
"I was just looking to do something different. I felt like I needed or wanted a little bit more help and interjection," Davenport said at Melbourne Park.
"I really wanted to work on some more specific things and I have been able to achieve that so far.
"It was time for me to get some new life and get some new ideas. I have to say I've had a really great time over the past six weeks with him.
"It's been really interesting and he's made me kind of think about and work on a lot of things that I really haven't done in a while. Tactics, mental approaches, talking about certain things in my game, I've been a lot more specific than I have been in quite some time.
"It's hard to implement them (changes) in the first month … it's a long-term plan of how to play better and how to improve at this age … hopefully whether it's here or in four months or two months, I can get my game to an even higher level."
Davenport's 2006 campaign begins on Rod Laver Arena on Monday where she is drawn to play the opening match of the tournament against Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua.
Any doubts over her tour commitments appear to have been brushed aside - at least for this year.
"I love it. It's great. I enjoy my tennis. I enjoy my career. I obviously enjoy my success and enjoy my privacy. So it kind of goes together nicely for me," she said.
"I think with the help of my husband, I've been very much able to play longer than I thought I could and played better and be more enthused about playing.
"I'm really excited for this year. I wouldn't have changed coaches and worked so hard if I wasn't really committed to another full year and hopefully accomplishing some more things in my career.
"The thought of quitting is not on my mind. I don't know when it's going to come. I'm fully committed to this year.
"As far as talking about any kind of tournament in 2007 or 2008, that's far beyond my comprehension right now. I'm just taking this year as it comes and looking forward to hopefully a successful one."
From someone who has contemplated retirement and viewed as an elder statesman on the tour, Davenport is ecstatic about the decision of Martina Hingis to return to the top flight.
"I think it's great. I was very outspoken a few years ago in my disappointment that she did quit because I always enjoyed her as a player," Davenport said.
"I enjoyed competing against her. I enjoyed having her around. I think it's great that she took the time she felt she needed away from the game and realised she really did miss it and is coming back.
"I wish her all the success. It will be interesting to see if she can adapt her game to the different level of play that we now have than three or four years ago."
Fellow tour veteran Mary Pierce had a solid training session at Melbourne Park in readiness for her first-round encounter against Australian tour trooper Nicole Pratt.
"I come into every tournament confident, feeling ready to play, eager to compete. You never know what can happen," Pierce said.
"It's really open, but at the same time we have so many girls that are playing so well.
It's going to be really exciting to actually see how the tournament unfolds."
Pierce had a remarkable return to major-league tennis last year finishing in the top five for the first time since 1999 after her ranking blew out to 130 in 2001.
Runner-up at Roland Garros and the US Open, Pierce - who celebrates her 31st birthday on Sunday - says she will continue to put pressure on the tour's younger brigade.
She believes her age, wisdom and maturity are her greatest assets. She also believes the balance of her career highs and lows have made her more appreciative of her achievements - in all aspects. She loves winning and wants to continuing winning.
"If I always do my best, everything else will kind of follow," she said.
"I'd like to be the No.1. I've never done that in my career before, and play at Wimbledon and hopefully to make the finals in the singles.
"I am looking for new experience, things that I have not done in a career of 17 years. To have firsts that are still achievable is exciting and motivating."
Fellow Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo lines up for her eighth Australian Open and after reaching the quarter-finals in the past two years, is aiming to be on Rod Laver Arena on the final Saturday of the tournament.
Looking extremely fit and relaxed, she meets China's Tiantian Sun in the first round, an opponent she knows little about.
"I think in the cases where you really don't know how your opponents going to play, I think you have to focus on your own game and your own weapons and really want you have to do - being aggressive and dictating the game," Mauresmo said.
"I've had a good preparation … there are a lot of contenders here. It's a pretty open draw, especially seeing all the best players are here fit and healthy.
"I'm really used to take it one match at a time and really see how the tournament is moving forward."
Top Gun (USA)
Shuai Peng (CHN)
Last edited by chewy; Jan 15th, 2006 at 09:34 AM.