A MD WC was given out to Lindsay Davenport.
Tourney gets star in Davenport
Former No.1 given wild card to next week's Women's Open
By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer
Lindsay Davenport has accepted a wild card to play in the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Mason, giving the inaugural event an immeasurable boost in star power.
Davenport, the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world and the top American, said she is feeling so fresh and playing so well that she scrapped an earlier plan to rest next week.
"This is a good week to go play," she said of the Women's Open. "I watched quite a bit of the men's tournament there (the W&S Masters) this year, and I've always heard great things about that. It looks like a great facility."
Along with ninth-ranked Vera Zvonareva, Davenport's presence will give the Tier III Women's Open two of the top nine players in the world. The Olympics draw includes four of the top nine.
The Women's Open field almost became even bigger: No. 5 Kim Clijsters, who attended the men's event last week to watch fiancÈ Lleyton Hewitt, said she wanted to play this event but couldn't because of a wrist injury.
It's rare for a top-10 player to play a Tier III event (minimum $170,000 prize money). Davenport said she usually plays about one such tourney per year; she already played one in Strasbourg, France, in May.
For the event, which has had an impressive presale average of nearly 4,000 tickets per session, Davenport's arrival was a pleasant surprise.
"We're thrilled to have her," tournament director Bruce Flory said. "This rewards the people who had the confidence and faith (when buying tickets) that we'd be delivering them a good product.
"We knew all the players coming would be world-class. But Lindsay Davenport is a huge name to top it."
Davenport, a former No. 1 player and winner of 43 titles, including three Grand Slams, is on a 14-match winning streak, having swept three tourneys in a row in California. She beat Venus Williams twice and Serena Williams once during this streak and didn't drop a set during her last two events.
"Everything has fallen into place this summer," she said.
Davenport, 28, had knee surgery early in 2002 and foot surgery late in 2003.
"This summer is the first time I've been completely whole again," she said. "... I had this week and last week off, and I've been training hard and felt like I was ready to go. I want to keep playing."
Davenport plans to play here and then in New Haven, Conn., leading up to the U.S. Open.
The two-time Olympian, gold medalist in 1996, said she declined the chance to play in Athens to avoid the travel and because of her preference to focus on the U.S. Open.
The Women's Open main draw begins Monday. As the likely top seed, Davenport will have a first-round bye and will play her first match Wednesday or Thursday.
Fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy, ranked 33rd, pulled out of the Women's Open because of a neck strain.
Two more Americans have been added to the field: No. 78 Mashona Washington and No. 84 Marissa Irvin. Washington, sister of former men's star MaliVai Washington, is at 28 enjoying her career high in the rankings. Irvin, 24, won the 2000 Honda Award while at Stanford as the nation's best college tennis player.