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Davenport Delivers To Reach Seventh Straight U.S. Open Quarterfinal

Photo By Susan Mullane By Adrianna Outlaw

Late arrivals streamed off the seven train into the National Tennis Center to watch today’s U.S. Open fourth round encounter between Lindsay Davenport and Nadia Petrova. The match began shortly after 11 a.m., but Petrova didn’t really show up until a half hour later.

Dropping six straight games to open the match, the 19th-seeded Russian rallied to take the second set in a tiebreaker and level the match. Davenport got back on track on the strength of some sizzling down the line shots in the final set, closing out a 6-0, 6-7(6), 6-2 victory with the severity of a conductor slamming shut subway doors in a harried commuters face.

"Gosh, that was a tough match," Davenport said. "I started out playing the type of tennis I want to play, but as the match went along I was less and less aggressive and she started playing well. I probably should have won it in two sets, but I’m just happy to pull it out."

The third-seeded Davenport advanced to the U.S. quarterfinals for the seventh straight year. On Tuesday, she will meet either 24th-seeded Argentine Paola Suarez or Russian Elena Likhovtseva for a place in the final four.

Dictating play throughout the first set, Davenport’s deep drives often pushed Petrova into reactive positions on the court as she was forced to hit off her back foot. Aggressively attacking every second serve Petrova hit, Davenport won eight of the nine points played on Petrova’s second serve in breaking three times to take the first set in 22 minutes.

The five-foot-10 Petrova tried to stand up to the 6 foot-2 Davenport and trade winners in the first set, but was undone by 12 unforced errors and Davenport’s crisp crosscourt shots. The Roland Garros semifinalist settled down and changed direction in the second set. Stepping up behind her backhand, Petrova steered several backhand winners down the line that left Davenport flat-footed in the second set.

Racing out to a 4-2 lead, Petrova pushed a pair of double faults into the net to surrender serve in the eighth game. She rebounded in the ninth game, blocking a backhand return winner down the line to break again for a 5-4 lead. Both players held serve to force a tiebreaker.

The 27-year-old Davenport drilled her eighth ace down the middle to take a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker and was two points from ending the match in straight sets, but Petrova produced a pair of winners and a Davenport double fault followed as Petrova evened the score at 5-5.

An acute-angled Davenport backhand pushed Petrova off the court, but with a wide open court as an inviting target, Davenport flailed a forehand long to give the 19th-ranked Russian a set point. She line an inside-out forehand winner that rattled the racquet of Davenport to take the set and even the match.

It was the first set surrendered by Davenport in the tournament. Taking the ball slightly earlier in the second set, Petrova kept Davenport on her toes, which wasn’t a particularly healthy place for the player who has been suffering from a nerve injury in her left foot that required a cortisone shot and has seemed to hamper her movement at times.

"It has been feeling a little better," Davenport said of her foot injury. "It did really well to hold up today."

The edge in experience was evident in the decisive set as Davenport picked apart Petrova’s forehand on pivotal points. The Petrova forehand is a weapon when she has time to set up for the shot, but too often she was slightly late, hit her forehand with too little spin and as a result it floated long. Exploiting a shallow second serve, Davenport drove a deep return right down the middle. The low shot skidded away from Petrova and her forehand reply failed to reach the net as she dropped serve to face a 1-3 deficit. Davenport held to stretch the lead to 4-1 before eventually closing out the match.
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