Davenport: Not my job alone to stop Williams sisters
The Associated Press
Aug 27 2002 2:56AM
NEW YORK (AP) - Others might consider it Lindsay Davenport's duty to step forward and break the Williams sisters' hold on women's tennis.
Davenport certainly doesn't.
``Players definitely have said that to me,'' the three-time Grand Slam champion said. ``I just say back to them, 'Well, you could have done it when I was gone.' I don't look at it like I'm the one that's supposed to do it. There are 126 other players in this draw. The responsibility is shared equally.''
Davenport's surgically repaired right knee passed its first Grand Slam test of 2002, a 6-2, 6-1 victory Monday over Eva Dyrberg of Denmark at the U.S. Open.
The American finished 2001 atop the rankings, but she was out from November until last month because of her knee injury. While Davenport and another former No. 1 player recovering from surgery, Martina Hingis, were sidelined, Serena and Venus Williams met in the last two Grand Slam finals and climbed to 1-2 in the world.
The sisters' games are built on power and speedy court coverage. The 6-foot-2 Davenport can match the former, if not the latter.
Still, U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King says, ``She's one of the only ones who can really compete with the Williamses.''
The Open is Davenport's fifth tournament of her comeback. She reached the semifinals in the first two and the finals in the last two. Two losses came against Venus Williams, including the title match Saturday in New Haven, Conn.
Asked what it will take to get her game and confidence back to the level that brought her three major titles, including the U.S. Open in 1998 and Wimbledon in 1999, Davenport said: ``I don't know if it will take beating a Williams or a very top player to get me going, or if it takes winning some more tournaments. But I'm not there.''
She spent nine weeks on crutches after her operation in January, then endured months of rehabilitation that included eight hours a day using a machine that repeatedly bent and straightened her right knee.
Davenport also changed her diet and appeared fit against Dyrberg. The fourth-seeded Davenport trailed 2-1, then reeled off nine straight games. She dropped just three points - two on double faults - on her serve in the first set of the 43-minute victory.
Davenport showed flashes of brilliance: serves topping 100 mph, a nifty backhand lob, strong service returns off both wings.
And she delivered groundstrokes with the oomph of old. It seemed as if someone were pushing Dyrberg backward, the way she flopped around behind the baseline, unable to handle Davenport's power.
After her long layoff, Davenport was pleased to be back on one of the sport's biggest stages.
``There were a lot of expectations that I put back on myself,'' she said. ``It helps so much when you feel like you can practice at 100 percent and nothing's bothering you.''
08/27/02 02:54 EDT
nicely said, Lindsay!