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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2002, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Pilot Pen

Women's Look Forward: Week of August 18
Women's Look Forward: New Haven[/b]
BOB Larson's Tennis News


You can learn a lot about players' habits just by looking at the New Haven draw.

Top players tend not to want to play too many warmups to a Slam; they don't want to arrive tired. Mid-ranked players, who don't anticipate winning so many matches that fatigue becomes a factor, want to be sure to get in some practice.

New Haven does a fine job of satisfying both. It's only a 28-draw, meaning that top players don't have to play too many matches to win -- but it features six qualifiers instead of the usual four, giving many more players the chance to at least play qualifying. The WTA says that New Haven is rivalled only by Filderstadt and San Diego in the strength of its qualifying field (which this year is headed by Elena Likhovtseva). This doesn't quite extend to the main draw -- the fact that only 22 players get direct entry makes the qualifying stronger than it should be relative to the main draw. But it's still a fairly impressive bunch. Consider: When is the last time Martina Hingis played a 28-draw event and didn't get a bye? (The answer is 1996, though of course this is mostly the WTA's injury rules in action; Hingis is actually the fourth-highest-ranked player present, behind Venus Williams, Jelena Dokic, and Justine Henin, but ends up with the #5 seed because Lindsay Davenport has a protected ranking and Hingis doesn't.)

Hingis may yet get promoted, given that Jelena Dokic on Saturday finally suffered the injury she's been courting assiduously all year. And she'd probably like that, since Dokic's quarter is weaker than her own. But hardly weak. There isn't a bad match in this draw, at least among those who got direct entry. Not when world #14 Silvia Farina Elia is unseeded!

The analysis below is based on the initial draw, with Dokic still scheduled to play.

With four seeds getting byes, and six qualifiers, there are only six first round matches involving two "name" players. All are quite good:

Tanasugarn vs. Shaughnessy. Both were ranked higher earlier this year than now. Shaughnessy has fallen lower -- but she was ranked higher when she started. Can she ever rediscover her form?

Farina Elia vs. Majoli. A very consistent player with no big weapons versus a very streaky player with better weapons. Hardcourt doesn't suit either particularly, though Farina is probably the more balanced player. This could go either way.

(5) Hingis vs. Smashnova. Two of the steadiest players on the Tour. Hingis has the better weapons. Will she have the patience to deal with Smashnova?

Myskina vs. Martinez. Myskina has been moving up steadily in the rankings, though she's going to have to raise things a level to move higher still. Martinez is in a pretty bad funk. But Myskina plays a very basic game. Can Martinez throw her enough changeups to bother her?

(6) Mauresmo vs. Panova. Mauresmo can blow Panova off the court if she's on. But Mauresmo doesn't like hardcourts at all -- she's the only player on the Tour to avoid Miami, for instance. Can Panova do something with that advantage?

Tulyaganova vs. Sanchez-Vicario. Both are slumping. Tulyaganova doesn't like hardcourts much, and she's ranked lower. Which one will break out?

In the second round, the fireworks really start:

(1) Venus Williams vs. Tanasugarn or Shaughnessy. Well, don't expect much out of this one.

Bedanova vs. (8) Dementieva. Two young talents. Two very inconsistent players. Bedanova beat Dementieva at the 2001 Australian Open -- and if anything, she's gotten better since, while Dementieva has signally failed to improve.

(3) Dokic vs. Schnyder. We'll see if this comes off. It's power vs. variety. A lot will depend on Schnyder's state of mind.

Majoli or Farina Elia vs. (7) Hantuchova. Majoli has the shots to beat Hantuchova on a good day. Farina Elia has the steadiness to let Hantuchova beat herself on a bad day. It should be a good match.

(5) Hingis vs. Stevenson. The two played a very tight set at Miami before Stevenson fell apart. That may have planted seeds of doubt in Stevenson; she's not been the same since. But neither has Hingis, who played only one more tournament before her injury. Hingis is healthy but not match-tough. Stevenson has only recently started winning again. Who is more out of form? Stay tuned.

Myskina or Martinez vs. (4) Henin. Myskina can outhit Henin. Martinez rivals the Belgian in touch. The points may be long, but they could be interesting.

(6) Mauresmo vs. Raymond. The surface is too fast for Mauresmo, too slow for Raymond. Who does that help?

Tulyaganova or Sanchez-Vicario vs. (2) Davenport. Who can find form the soonest? Davenport is, other than Venus Williams, the best hardcourt player in the draw. But it is only her fourth event back.

The Rankings. Since this is written before Montreal concludes, what follows is more tentative than usual. But some things are clear. To begin with, Serena Williams remains #1. Venus Williams is the New Haven defending champion, and with the draw somewhat weaker this year than last, she can only lose points. Nonetheless, Venus is secure at #2 -- all the more so since Jennifer Capriati isn't playing this year. Capriati, even though she won't be defending her semifinalist points, is secure at #3. Below that, things start to get interesting. The next three players in the rankings are Dokic (who may play), Seles (who won't), and Clijsters (who won't). Justine Henin is, by our calculation, 334 points behind Dokic. So if she can win here (highly unlikely, given that this is probably her worst surface), she would certainly pass Seles and Clijsters and might even threaten Dokic.

Hingis, at #8, has nothing to defend, and so has an outside shot at passing Henin or Clijsters. She probably won't fall, considering that Lindsay Davenport is the defending finalist and Mauresmo is has quarterfinalist points.

Daniela Hantuchova has an outside shot to enter the Top Ten.

Only five of the players from #11 to #20 are playing: Hantuchova, Dementieva, Farina Elia, Myskina, and Smashnova. Most of these players have many more than 17 tournaments; it's hard for them to move up the rankings unless they have very big results. The only one with much on the line is Myskina (85 points). So we may see almost no movement among players in the #11-#20 range.

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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2002, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Security increase obvious choice
News Haven Register
By Karen Tucker, Register staff


Get ready New Haven. Thirteen of the top 20 women's tennis players in the world are coming to town this week.

Add to that the increased security nationwide as a result of Sept. 11, the Connecticut Tennis Center being the fourth-largest tennis stadium in the world and the growing popularity of women's tennis, and security has become more than just a topic of conversation at the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.

"We are undertaking security precautions that other events of our size and stature are taking," Tournament Director Anne Worcester said. "It's good for everyone. It's good for spectators, it's good for players. It's safety as well as security."

For the first time, bags will be searched prior to entering the stadium. Ticket holders have been advised to leave any unnecessary items at home or in their vehicles. Everyone entering the grounds may be searched.

A great deal of security has been added behind the scenes as well.

"Besides the bag checking, it's not really security that anyone will see. It will be an increased undercover effort," Worcester said. "It's a combination of our security people plus the New Haven Police. There's a great deal of communication going on."

According to the New Haven Police Department, adequate staffing, including uniformed officers and bomb sniffing dogs will be seen on the premises throughout the tournament.

"We're working with the Pilot Pen officials, the state police, Yale University and the FBI to provide a safe environment," said Sgt. Holly Wasilewski, a temporary spokesperson for the NHPD.

Worcester added that a crisis management plan has been put in place and all staff members have been instructed on how the plan will run.

"Any responsible employer and any responsible company should have had that in place before Sept.

11," Worcester said. "It might be more front-of-mind for employees today but it's not all that different from how any company should responsibly be operating."

Because of company policy, Gary Kramer, director of security for Accurate Events, was unable to comment on the subject. Accurate Events handles security at the Pilot Pen.

The Connecticut Tennis Center holds 13,500 spectators and had its largest Pilot Pen crowd of 11,584 last year during the singles semifinal between Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

"We haven't sold out in the four years of women's tennis but there's a first time for everything," Worcester said.

Over the nine-day event last year, 92,687 attended the tournament and more are expected this year.

"Anywhere where you have that potential number of people in one place at one time has all kinds of security issues, refuge issues, food issues, traffic issues, health department issues," Worcester said.

"There's a whole host of issues that go along with attracting upwards of 100,000 people"

Wasilewski also pointed out that the fire department and American Medical Response ambulances will be on site in case of emergencies.

"We don't anticipate any problems," Wasilewski said, "but we are well prepared if anything does take place. That encompasses everything from bad weather to the extreme."

Ticket holders are advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before play begins to allow additional time for traffic, parking, and security checks.

"There's very high-profile, international celebrities playing in the event, so with that comes security at any time," Worcester said, "and of course, post-Sept. 11, we all need to be even more responsible and vigilant."

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2002, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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The Venus Factor potent in women's tennis

Sunday, August 18, 2002

PILOT PEN TENNIS COL 18

A phone call came into the sports department at the Republican-American early last week. The gentleman needed information about the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.

"When does the Pilot Pen start?" the caller asked.

He was informed that the event begins Sunday, today, and continues through Saturday.

There was a pause, and then another question: "What time is Venus playing?"

Who?

"I want to know what time Venus Williams is playing," he said, a bit annoyed.

Ah, so you're a star gazer, not a tennis fan.

He was mystified when informed that Venus will not play today, or even Monday, and perhaps not even Tuesday. No one has any idea when Venus is playing, and no one will know until sometime Monday night, probably.

"Well why not?" he demanded.

This isn't a Yankee game, I tried to explain, where first pitch is 7:05 on the dot and Venus is always in the lineup. This is tennis, and even tennis people can hardly explain the game's scheduling mysteries.

Tennis fans, generally, buy their tickets in advance and enjoy the matches of whomever, whenever. The sport does not attract a walk-up kind of crowd. Tennis stars are crawling all over New Haven this week. Lindsay Davenport, Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Martina Hingis are here, and all of them are former No. 1 ranked stars.

None of this made the slightest difference to a fan who wants to walk in, watch Venus, and go home. It's like the indifference of concert-goers to the opening act at a rock show. They show up just for the headliner.

Venus is the ultimate headliner in women's sports, the one-name that commands the marquee, like Cher or Madonna, Liza or Bette. She is the three-time defending champion in New Haven, and like the old joke, she's done everything there but show you to your seat. When you call the 1-800 phone number for the Pilot Pen, it is Venus, or at least her voice on a recording, who answers the phone.

There will be a lot of stars sashaying on the stadium court at the Connecticut Tennis Center this week, but Venus has eclipsed them all. She is the epitome of star power in the women's game. In any game. She just may be the most recognizable female athlete on the planet.

Venus was affixed in the firmament on the day she was named after the goddess of beauty and love, but she clearly earned her place in the pantheon the day she started to whack a tennis ball. In 1997, Venus advanced to the singles final of the U.S. Open in her first time playing the event. Davenport defeated Venus that day but it was quite apparent that the women's game was about to change forever.

Many believe the game has changed for the best. The women's game always attracted tennis fans who felt that beauty and tactics and strategy had disappeared from men's game. Guess what? It's just about gone on the ladies side, too. The genteel game played with wooden rackets at hoity-toity tennis clubs is gone. What's left is star power, and no one personifies that more than Venus.

Tennis was in desperate need of something akin to golf's Tiger Factor. The Venus Factor may be just as potent. That was demonstrated when the U.S. Open moved its women's singles final to prime time, Saturday night in 2001. Venus played Serena, and the match had the glitz and glitter of a Broadway opening.

But is it great for the game of tennis, or just great for Venus? What happens when the Williams sisters pack up the rackets in a few years, or, as often happens, become hard-court road kill, victim of the latest tennis phenom from somewhere in eastern Europe? The CBS television network and the United States Tennis Association will bring down the curtain on that prime time tennis extravaganza in a New York minute.

But the caller doesn't care about any of that. He just wants to know about Venus.

"Well, I'll just call you back every night," he said.

"No, no, don't call me. Go to the Pilot Pen Tennis Web site. Or just read the newspaper every morning."

"Nah, I'll just call you guys."
Thank you, Venus. Thank you very much indeed.

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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 2002, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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TRADING PLACES
Hingis now chasing Venus

By CHRIS CASAVANT [email protected]

NEW HAVEN
Martina Hingis and Venus Williams are in very different places in their careers

different from each other and different from just a few years ago.

From 1997-99, Hingis was the most dominant women's tennis player in the world, winning five majors. Williams, meanwhile, was trying to harness her incredible talent and find a way to compete with the top players.

Hingis hasn't controlled the WTA Tour since the start of 2000, but she's been remarkably consistent, winning 12 tournaments during that span and remaining the No. 1-ranked player for 73 straight weeks at one point.

Now she's ranked eighth and fighting her way back from a second ankle surgery. For the first time in about six years, she's doing the chasing.

"I'm very happy just being out there and competing again," Hingis said at a press conference at the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament Sunday. "Taking advantage of every single match is gonna help me. There's still a lot of room to get better."

One player she'll have to overcome to return to the top is Williams. Hingis owned Williams earlier in their careers, but that has changed; now the Williams sisters are at the top of the sport she once ruled.

Hingis seemed very upbeat as she discussed her rehab and somewhat uncertain tennis future. She spent some time at the Greater Hartford Open following her boyfriend, golfer Sergio Garcia, and she said fans constantly asked her if she'd play at the Pilot Pen.

She's here, largely because she needs match practice before the U.S. Open. She opens tonight at 7 in a first-round match against Anna Smashnova, no easy task for someone accustomed to first-round byes.

"That's going to be quite a workout," she said about facing the No. 19-ranked player in the world.

Hingis said the walking she did at TPC at River Highlands and a week prior at the U.S. Open helped strengthen her ankle and fuel her desire to return.

"All the people here and during that time were always asking, 'When are you going to get back, how does your ankle feel?' " she said. "That kind of pushed me to get back on track."

Williams is the much more confident player these days. The four-time winner of Grand Slam titles is the only player on Tour who is a three-time defending champion at an event. She'll try to make it four straight Pilot Pen titles this week.

"I've done so well here," Williams said. "Coming off a tournament win and going into a Grand Slam is wonderful. Even if I'm not playing my best tennis, I go in very confident."

Williams was the No. 1-ranked player in the world earlier this year, a distinction she lost after Wimbledon, where her sister Serena beat her in the final. But since Wimbledon, Venus has won two titles to none for Serena.

"It's very important (to regain the No. 1 ranking)," she said. "I'm not trying to stay No. 2 for the rest of my career. I do play to be the best, that's for sure. I'm hoping these tournament wins will add up and make a difference for me."

In three years at the Pilot Pen, Williams has won all 12 of her matches, losing just one set along the way

to Justine Henin last year. Tournament director Anne Worcester introduced her as the player who's become "the icon of this event."

"I've had three great years here," Williams said. "Not too many tournaments have I had the privilege of winning three times in a row, and this could be four. I've never won a tournament four times in a row on the Tour."

Stay tuned.

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Face Of The Tournament: Venus
August 19, 2002
By ROBERTO GONZALEZ, Courant Staff Writer

NEW HAVEN -- Tournament director Anne Worcester called top-seeded Venus Williams "the icon of the Pilot Pen" Sunday, and with good reason. Williams is, after all, the three-time defending champion.

Williams, ranked No. 2 in the world behind her sister Serena, received a bye into the second round and will play Meghann Shaughnessy Tuesday or Wednesday.

Williams is coming off a two-week break after winning in San Diego, and said the Pilot Pen is instrumental in her preparation for the U.S. Open.

"I have had three great years here. It's been nice," said Williams, 22. "I've done so well here, and coming off a tournament win going into a Grand Slam is very wonderful. I come in - even if I'm not exactly playing the best tennis - with confidence and mentally I feel very good, as if I could do anything. So that helps a lot."

Williams is the two time defending U.S. Open champion.

Worcester said Williams is the only player who is a three-time defending champion of an event.

Williams doesn't play more than three tournaments in a row. She said she relaxed and spent some time away from the court. When she began preparing for the Pilot Pen, it was simply a matter of honing her game, she said.

"I just work on my consistency," Williams said. "Hitting the ball with power and precision, and also being consistent at the same time."

When Williams was asked if she missed rival Martina Hingis, who was away from the tour for three months after ankle surgery, she first just smiled.

"When I heard the news [that she was having surgery], I was shocked," Williams said. "But she always bounces back quickly. I wish I could do the same as her."

Williams said she and Serena, who beat her sister in the Wimbledon and French Open finals, never talk about their rankings with each other. But Venus says she wants to return to No. 1.

"It's very important for me to be No. 1," Williams said with a sly smile. "I don't want to be No. 2 the rest of my career."

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Venus: Chase is on
Pursuit of sister's top rank continues at Pilot Pen


By Sean O'Rourke, Register Staff August 19, 2002

Venus Williams puts her Pilot Pen Tennis unbeaten streak on the line either Tuesday or Wednesday against Meghann Shaughnessy. Mara Lavitt/Register

NEW HAVEN — Venus Williams' pursuit of the No. 1 ranking in women's tennis continues this week at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

Williams is chasing younger sister Serena for the distinction. A fourth straight tournament title at the Pilot Pen tournament this week and a third straight championship at the U.S. Open, which begins a week from today, would vault big sister past little sister in the rankings.

The pursuit of her fourth straight Pilot Pen title begins either Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon against Meghann Shaughnessy, who defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 Sunday afternoon.

2002 Pilot Pen @ NewHavenRegister.com
Special section || Interactive guide || Tournament coverage

On the newstand: Complete coverage every day!


Venus Williams met with the media Sunday at the CTC to discuss her goal of returning to No. 1.

"It (being No. 1) is very important," Williams said. "I'm not trying to stay at No. 2 for the rest of my career. I'm hoping the tournament wins will add up and make a difference for me."

Williams moved into the No. 1 ranking on Feb. 25 for the first time in her career. She lasted for four weeks and also had stints from April 22-May 19 and June 10-July 7 before being displaced by her sister.

Serena Williams earned the top ranking after beating Venus in the Wimbledon final. Serena also beat Venus in the French Open final in June.

For most, a year with two Grand Slam final appearances would be considered superb. But Venus dominated last summer as she won at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as winning tournaments at San Diego and the Pilot Pen.

"I feel I've done my personal best this year," Williams said. "I've had some nice highlights. Two (Grand Slam) finals are not bad. I can't be too down on myself about that. This is still a great year, to be second best is not bad. I realize I can't have everything, but I still have to keep working hard."

Williams prepared for the three-week stretch at the Pilot Pen and the U.S. Open by taking the last two weeks off from tournament play. Unless the tournament is a Grand Slam event, Venus does not play when Serena does. Serena played in Los Angeles and was scheduled to play in Montreal last week before withdrawing because of an injury.

The weeks off served as a mental and physical refresher for Venus. She was able to hang out at home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and catch up on her hobbies, although she was careful not to go too long without practicing.

"I try to relax, to do things to take me away from my main focus, which is tennis," Williams said. "I kind of back away from everything. (But) at this time, I can't afford to take a couple of weeks off. I need to work on my consistency.

"I'm only able to play so many tournaments in a row because I usually do well and get to the later rounds. For me the maximum is about two or three tournaments in a row."

The pursuit of No. 1 starts up again this week at the Pilot Pen. But she knows winning for a fourth straight year will be a challenge because of a field that includes Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Jelena Dokic and Justine Henin.

"It's always a good field here," Williams said. "I remember watching (Jana) Novotna (and Steffi Graf) in the final in 1998. Everyone wants to be here. It's a good place to get the last piece of confidence (before the U.S. Open)."

Sean O'Rourke can be reached at [email protected] or 789-5658.

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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Venus aims for double defence

Venus Williams will defend her title in New Haven


By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport Online

Venus Williams will complete her preparations for the defence of her US Open title by looking to repeat last year's triumph at the Pilot Pen event in New Haven.

The world number two returns to action in the final warm-up tournament ahead of the year's final Grand Slam event, which begins next week in New York.

Williams warms up with win
And with sister Serena taking a break, Venus is a strong favourite to claim her seventh title of the year.

The first test should be a meeting with Jelena Dokic in the last four before an expected repeat of last year's final against Lindsay Davenport, who is on her way back after a long injury lay-off.

Martina Hingis is another player looking to regain full fitness and may struggle should she make the latter stages of the tournament.

The former world number one opens against Israel's Anna Cmashnova.

Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin look the only other players capable of causing an upset in New Haven.

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Williams overpowers Shaughnessy with her serve

Associated Press


NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Top-seeded Venus Williams maintained her perfect record in the Pilot Pen with a 6-2, 6-4 second-round victory over Meghann Shaughnessy on Tuesday night.


Venus Williams took the first set from Meghann Shaughnessy in less than a half-hour, winning 6-2, 6-4.


Williams, the three-time defending champion, has won all 13 of her matches here and advanced to play qualifier Laura Granville in the quarterfinals.

Williams, tuning up to defend her U.S. Open title next week, breezed through the first set in less than 30 minutes, getting most of her powerful first serves in at more than 100 mph and quickly tracking down any returns. She made short work of Shaughnessy's defensive lobs and won the battle at the net with her range.


''I played pretty efficiently tonight,'' Williams said. ''I have to come in in order to play my best tennis. I can reach and get to the balls, but the first step is just getting to the net.''


Shaughnessy won just one point off Williams' serves in the first set. Her returns were often easy setups for Williams' crushing winners.

''She came out very aggressive today and made a very high percentage of her first serves, which is difficult because I was on the defensive right from the very beginning on every point,'' Shaughnessy said.

Shaughnessy toughened in the second set with more aggressive net play. She broke Williams in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and had her down 40-0 in the next game. But Williams won five consecutive points to break Shaughnessy. Williams held serve to take a 5-4 lead then quickly broke Shaughnessy at love to close out the match after giving herself a pep talk.


''I said I'm not going to hit any balls into the net and that I'm not going to hit wide for no reason,'' Williams said.


Earlier Tuesday, second-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated Iroda Tulyganova 6-4, 7-5 (3) to advance to the quarterfinals.


Davenport countered Tulyganova's powerful serve and forehands with precise winners. It was their first meeting, and Davenport admitted being unprepared for Tulyganova's strong service game. Tulyganova recorded eight aces and several service winners.


''I just had difficulties,'' Davenport said. ''Not many girls serve between 110 and 115 miles per hour. I haven't played somebody that served quite that hard except maybe Venus.


''Fortunately, I felt when we were rallying I was hitting the balls well.''

Granville advanced by beating Angelika Roesch 7-5, 6-2.


In first-round play, No. 6 Amelie Mauresmo beat Tatiana Panova, 6-2, 6-2; Daniela Hantuchova eased to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Jennifer Hopkins; Anastasia Myskina ousted Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-4; and Patty Schnyder defeated Marta Marrero 6-4, 6-1.


The Pilot Pen is Davenport's fourth tournament back from knee surgery that sidelined her for most of the season. She combined her powerful ground strokes with dead-on accuracy, routinely running Tulyaganova from sideline to sideline.


''She was hitting winners from everywhere,'' Tulyaganova said. ''I was getting very nervous.''


But it was Davenport who lost concentration late in the match. Up a break in the second set, she struggled with her serve in the eighth game.


She had two double faults in a row and made a couple of unforced errors, allowing Tulyaganova to break her serve and tie the set at 4-all. Davenport regained her game in time and cruised through the tiebreak 7-3, but said she was again disappointed over the mental lapse.


''It's just been plaguing me for the last few weeks,'' Davenport said. ''I get up and then I play some sloppy points and sloppy games. It obviously makes it more of an interesting match.''


During her comeback, Davenport has advanced to two semifinals and a final. She lost the championship in Los Angeles to Chanda Rubin.

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