Australian Open: Sharapova ousts Davenport
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
MELBOURNE, Australia ” Maria Sharapova looked up and spotted a 7-month-old kid staring her down.
“I thought I saw her little kid giving me dirty looks,” Sharapova said.
The boy, Jagger, was courtside. His mom, Lindsay Davenport, winner of three Grand Slam titles and with a 19-1 record since returning to the tour, was across the net.
Sharapova beat Davenport 6-1, 6-3 Wednesday night to move into the third round of the Australian Open against a fellow Russian, Elena Vesnina.
“Tell you the truth, I approached it like it’s a final,” said Sharapova, straying from her ‘one-match-at-a-time’ mantra. “Ever since I took a peak at the draw and saw that Lindsay was second round.”
Davenport was only five tournaments into a comeback after giving birth to Jagger last June. Still, Sharapova was preparing for a matchup worthy of the second week of a major.
“You probably don’t get to see too many second rounds where you see two Grand Slams champions, former No. 1s playing against each other,” she said. “The buildup to the match, the excitement, the showtime ” I love that. As an athlete, that’s what you play for.”
And that’s probably what brought Davenport back.
“It was fun. The crowd was great. I wish I could’ve given them a little more to cheer for,” the 31-year-old Californian said. “The key was starting off well, and I really didn’t do that.”
Sharapova never faced a break point. She broke for the fourth time when Davenport netted a forehand on second match point.
“I’m disappointed with the way this match went and this tournament went, but I have to look big picture at this point in my career,” Davenport said. “So far it’s gone pretty well the last few months.”
Justine Henin could say the same about her time back on the tour after a marriage breakup that kept her from Melbourne last year. She dominated the rest of the 2007 season with a 63-4 record, including wins at the French and U.S. Opens.
Her 6-1, 7-5 victory over Russia’s Olga Poutchkova on Wednesday extended the Belgian’s streak to 30 consecutive wins since an upset semifinal loss to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon.
No. 3 Jelena Jankovic, who had to save three match points in a 22-game third set in the first round, had a routine 6-2, 7-5 win over Edina Gallovits in the second round.
Serena Williams made a comeback of her own last year, capturing an eighth Grand Slam title with an emphatic victory over Sharapova in the Australia Open final only three weeks after one of her worst career losses in a tournament at Hobart. She was ranked No. 81 and was only the second unseeded woman to win a Grand Slam title.
Now ranked No. 7, she’s growing in confidence for an Australian title defense. She improved her record to 25-1 in her five most recent trips to Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 6-1 win over China’s Yuan Meng.
Sister Venus, whose first-round win was her first at Melbourne Park since a fourth-round exit in 2005, is in the opposite half of the draw.
Venus, ranked No. 8, plays Camil Pin first up on Vodafone Arena on Thursday, with No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova beginning play on center court against Tsvetana Pironkova.
Roger Federer is next at Rod Laver Arena against French veteran Fabrice Santoro, playing in a record 62nd Grand Slam tournament. Federer has reached the finals of the last 10 majors, winning eight of those to move within two of Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam titles. He’s 27-1 at the season’s opening major since the start of 2004.
Two men who beat him last season, No. 3 Novak Djokovic and No. 10 David Nalbandian, also play in the second round Thursday.
No. 2 Rafael Nadal, the only man to beat Federer in the last 10 majors ” both times in the French Open finals ” made the third round with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Florent Serra. The Spaniard is enjoying extra bite on his heavy slice and topspin on the new, blue Plexicushion surface. His only major titles have come on the red clay of Roland Garros.
Andy Roddick’s only major title was the U.S. Open in 2003. Since February the following year, he’s been in the pack chasing Federer. He fired 10 aces and hit 34 winners in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Germany’s Michael Berrer in Wednesday’s last match. Despite a nearly flawless performance, his two swings and misses drew the crowd’s attention.
“I wanted everyone here to relate a little bit,” he joked. “I have no other reason.”
Mardy Fish, Roddick’s friend and Davis Cup teammate, ousted No. 11 Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
Also advancing were No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 20 Ivo Karlovic and No. 23 Paul-Henri Mathieu also advanced.
On the women’s side, 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo needed 10 match points to beat Yaroslava Shvedova and advanced with No. 11 Elena Dementieva, No. 12 Nicole Vaidisova and No. 17 Shahar Peer.
Davenport will now pack her tennis gear and baby accessories and head for Fed Cup duties, then some tournaments in the United States. Having Jagger and husband Jon Leach around gives her a healthy perspective on wins and losses.
“I still feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” she said.
Sharapova was the first Grand Slam winner she played since her comeback, and Davenport acknowledged the Russian was “head and shoulders above me.” Still, she thinks she can get back to the top 10 by the end of the year.
“I obviously need a lot more tournaments to play and need to improve my level,” she said. “But I totally believe I can achieve that.”
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