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tennisIlove09
Apr 18th, 2003, 10:58 PM
Pre-Wedding March: Davenport Downs Schnyder To Reach Amelia Island Semis


Lindsay Davenport By Richard Pagliaro
04/19/2003

Bride-to-be Lindsay Davenport turned today's Bausch & Lomb quarterfinals into a celebratory ceremony of stellar play. The second-seeded Davenport dismissed Patty Schnyder's challenge with the ease of a newlywed tossing a bridal bouquet aside in scoring an impressive 6-1, 6-1 victory to advance to the Amelia Island semifinals and walked off the court to prepare for a pending wedding march.

Immediately after her inspired victory a relaxed Davenport revealed she may soon wed longtime fiance Jonathan Leach. Asked by ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Pam Shriver about her wedding plans, Davenport replied: "Probably next time you see me, I could be married."

With her wedding pending, it's understandable Davenport would have larger issues on her mind than a mere tennis match. But the sleekly slim Davenport has engaged in spirited play this week in dropping only five games in her three tournament victories. After a first-round bye, Davenport defeated Alicia Molik, 6-1, 6-0 in the second round; she crushed Marlene Weingartner, 6-1, 6-1 in the third round and stopped Schnyder today.

The 26-year-old Laguna Beach, California resident awaits the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between her doubles partner, Lisa Raymond, and third-seeded Jennifer Capriati. Should Capriati come through to reach the final four it would set up a compelling semifinal showdown with Davenport. The last time the pair played, Davenport prevailed with a dazzling 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 triumph in the Pacific Life Open semifinals, which featured some of best tennis of the year.

"That was just a really hard-fought, high-quality tennis match," Davenport said after dispatching Capriati last month. "I don't feel I've played at that level for a few months now, so that's real exciting."

If the former No. 1 was excited after that effort, she had to be downright delighted with a dominant display today against a very competent clay-court player in Schnyder. Davenport drilled 32 winners, made only eight unforced errors and basically blew Schnyder off the court with the depth and pace of her drives.

"This is the best I've felt since I've been back," said Davenport, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right knee to correct a cartilage defect on January, 11th, 2002 and spent nine weeks on crutches before returning to tournament tennis last July. "Everything feels perfect. I felt my shots flowing."

Since she turned pro a decade ago, Davenport has been one of tennis' top ball strikers. She doesn't just hit hard shots — the ball seems to detonate from Davenport's strings and at her best Davenport is capable of dictating play against any opponent.

During the past few years, Davenport's commitment to conditioning has been the biggest difference in her game. Her improved agility was evident in the second game of today's match as Davenport snapped off a leaping backhand overhead with her back to the net while retreating on the run, then spun sharply, sprinted to her right and lined a forehand winner crosscourt that caught the corner. It was a pure professional play — the type of shot sequence you see primarily from tennis' elite players — and a sign that Davenport's desire was strong on every shot.

It hasn't always been that way. In the past, Davenport's toughest battles on the court have often been internal ones as she sometimes succumbed to self-doubt, sagging spirits and cracks in her confidence that were evident in her negative body language. But since the clay-court season began, Davenport has looked much more comfortable on the court. Even while trailing 1-6, 1-3 in last week's semifinal setback to Serena Williams in Charleston, Davenport didn't give up and fought hard to the final point of a 6-1, 7-5 loss.

If she can continue to show that sort of defiant determination in each match, the combination of Davenport's prodigious power off the ground, her willingness to aggressively move forward during points and use her formidable frontcourt game and a serve that may well be second only to Serena's on the WTA Tour will make Davenport a contender on every surface.

The bride-to-be has proved she's committed to competing well and may soon be wedded to winning tournament titles.

selesfan
Apr 18th, 2003, 11:07 PM
Lindsay defeated Alicia Molik in the second round, do they ever get anything right?