Lindsay and Clay: The relationship
Everybody talks as if Davenport has some phobia of clay, particularly the European stuff, in the same way Muster hated grass. Worst of all, and much to my bemusement, so does Lindsay.
When did Lindsay's relationship with clay hit the rocks?
Well, she did well in '98. She reached the semis at Roland Garros, beating two handy clay courters along the way. Similarly, in 1999 she only lost out to Graf, if you ask me, because, as in so many of Davenports defeats, her belief deserted her. In the 3rd set she seemed awed, and happy that she'd taken a Great to a final set on her "worst" surface.
It was a great shame that she lost so early in 2000 when she was barely prepared after an injury. That's probably when her phobia began.
But let's get this right, Davenport has a VERY solid record at Roland Garros, with the exception of 2000. I remember in 1996, when she reached the quarter finals, she said, "I love this surface, the ball sits up and you can nail it," or something to that effect.
I agree with what she herself said. I think Lindsay's shots can do as much damage on clay as on any other surface. True, she has to hit more balls and cover more court, but the great benefit is she has more time to do so.
The nature of grass court play is that players REACT to balls, such is the pace of the surface. There's no time to think - just move. Hard courts are also ideal for those with fast reflexes. Davenport is not one of those people.
With a more positive attitude to clay, I think Davenport could have had far more success at Roland Garros. She's also been extremely unlucky with injuries in the run-up to that tournament, but I do think in the last few years she'd decided it's the Slam she's least likely to win.
I think she should open her eyes. And that "one more slam" she's hoping to win, well, wouldn't the Lenglen trophy contrast well with those other three trophies in her garage?