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Apr 11th, 2003, 10:16 PM
Davenport brings her clay game to Family Circle

By PETE IACOBELLI, AP Sports Writer
April 11, 2003

AP - Apr 10, 5:50 EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Lindsay Davenport's first clay-court tournament in three years is going better than she hoped.

The former No. 1-ranked player used strong volleying to beat Vera Zvonareva 7-6 (3), 6-3 Friday and reach the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup.

Davenport won 20 of 21 points at the net.

``That's phenomenal,'' she said. ``That's what I've got to keep doing if I want to do well on clay. I came into the season wanting to go for my shots.''

Her next opponent will be No. 1 Serena Williams or Jelena Dokic, who played later Friday. Also Friday, Justine Henin-Hardenne eliminated 2000 champion Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-3, and Daniela Hantuchova faced 17-year-old qualifier Ashley Harkleroad.

Davenport last played on slow clay at the 2000 French Open.

``I actually feel a little bit comfortable out there,'' Davenport said with a laugh.

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Who would have guessed?

She has won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open. The other Grand Slam event, the French Open, is the only one played on clay -- and the only one she hasn't added to her collection.

Davenport made it past the quarterfinals at Roland Garros just once, and she lost in the first round there three years ago.

Back problems and last year's knee surgery slowed Davenport's plans for a comeback on clay. So when she returned to the Family Circle Cup for the first time since 1998, she wasn't counting on a smooth run through the draw.

``Really, I didn't have high expectations,'' Davenport said. ``That doesn't mean I didn't want to do well, or didn't think I could. But maybe that's helped me play better. I really have enjoyed my time on the clay.''

Davenport has faced tough conditions all week. Rain and cold weather have hovered over the event, and the quarterfinals were no different. Davenport and Zvonareva came out at 10:30 a.m. to start, but were forced inside by a steady drizzle that lasted more than two hours.


Updated at Fri, Apr 11 2003,