Davenport gets a toe in the Slam-ming door
Serena and Venus Williams are gone. The nagging nerve pain in the left toes is gone. Now Lindsay Davenport wants her five-year title drought at the US Open to vanish as well.
The 27-year-old American advanced to the fourth round of the year's final Grand Slam by beating Hungary's Melinda Czink 6-0, 6-2 on Friday, showing no sign of foot pain that forced her out of a WTA final last week after a numbing injection.
"It's feeling better every day," Davenport said. "Doctors say every day that goes by, the steroid injection kicks in a little bit more. Each day that goes by I'm getting more confident in my foot that I'm going to be OK to finish."
Davenport, who won her first Slam title here in 1998, lost to a Williams sister here each of the past four years. But with both siblings injured and absent, the third seed likes her chances.
"Without the Williamses, it's an incredible opportunity," Davenport said. "They have been very hard opponents to get past in the last few years. They have taken me out. I guess it's nice not to have to worry about that."
Top-ranked Kim Clijsters and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium are the top seeds, with Clijsters having beaten Davenport in three WTA finals and a semi-final this year. But the Belgians are not the Williamses.
"They are probably not as intimidating as the Williamses but Kim has a phenomenal record against me this year," Davenport said. "It's going to be just as tough a match."
Davenport seeks a fourth Slam crown, following her 1998 win here, at Wimbledon in 1999 and the 2000 Australian Open.
"I'm going to have to keep on playing well," she said. "Tough rounds begin now. But I would like to think I have a chance."
Blocking Davenport's path to the quarter-finals is 19th-ranked Nadia Petrova of Russia. The French Open semi-finalist ousted 14th seed Amanda Coetzer of South Africa 6-0, 6-1 and has her next foe's respect.
"She's dangerous," Davenport said. "Now I'm going to have to raise it up a level. I'm going have to get past my foot and I think I can do that."
Win or lose, Davenport plans on surgery to cut the nerve in her left toes, an operation that will keep her out two or three months. But she plans to be back in time for January's Australian Open.
"I'm going to take care of my foot right away and come back and get ready for Australia. I'm probably going to play a lot more by early next year than I ever have."