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Davenport Saves Set Points To Reach Roland Garros Third Round

Photo By Cynthia Lum By Richard Pagliaro

In the space of a single service game, Lindsay Davenport served notice she's intent on making her mark on the red clay of Roland Garros. Serving at 4-5 in the first set of today's second-round Roland Garros match against Iroda Tulyaganova, Davenport faced triple-set point at 0-40. But Davenport delivered a series of first serves to stave off the set points and earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory that vaulted her into the Roland Garros third round.

Perhaps more than any other top 10 player, Davenport's game flows from her first serve. It's the one essential ingredient in her game; like good grapes that develop into fine wine, when Davenport's serve is on it often produces pure, palatable, powerful play. But when her serve is off target, the rest of her game can flounder giving Davenport the disgusted look of a connoisseur served sour Kool-Ade at a wine-testing festival.

The sixth-seeded Davenport's ability to summon some strong serves in the ninth game turned the first set in her favor.

"I started to build the points a little bit better," Davenport said. "You know, another big thing was just making some first serves. Getting stuck hitting way too many second serves. I was able the last few service games to be able to win some points on my first serves and get them in."

Holding serve to even the set, Davenport broke Tulyaganova for a 6-5 lead then confidently served out the set in the next game.

The 21-year-old Tulyaganova, who reached a career-high rank of No. 16 last year, who thrives on pace and has stood up to Davenport's devastating power in their past matches. Little separated the pair in their last Grand Slam duel when Davenport defeated Tulyaganova, 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open. She expected another tough test today.

"The last two times we've played were very close. I thought the clay would probably favor her even more than that," Davenport said. "But I don't think either one of us played as well as we have in the past matches. I think it wasn't a very high, high level of play out there. It was one of those days where you're lucky your opponent doesn't play great, and you're lucky to get through and you're happy to get through. Just kind of did what I had to do to win that match."

Playing her first French Open since she suffered a first-round loss to Belgium's Dominique Van Roost in the first round of the 2000 tournament, Davenport is fitter and faster than she once was and is still trying to find her comfort zone on clay.

"There's no question I feel like all around I'm a little bit more athletic; my ability to move, move forward especially, has gotten better," Davenport said. "There's no question about that. As far as being a true clay court mover, there's no way I'm ever going to be able to do it. I mean, I've tried, believe me. You know, it's tough to just get your balance and get your footing on clay, because it's so slippery. But I think there's no question I'm better than I was the last time I was here in 2000, and before that."

In the third-round Davenport takes on 25th-seeded French woman Nathalie Dechy, a crafty player, who has had little success on clay. In eight previous appearances at the French Open, Dechy has yet to surpass the third round.
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