By Paul Levine
SportsTicker Contributing Writer
|Venus Williams wipes her brow after retiring from her semifinal match against Lindsay Davenport at the JP Morgan Chase Open© Jeff Gross/Getty Images|
CARSON, California (Ticker) - Venus Williams started out of this world before another injury sent her crashing out of the $585,000 JP Morgan Chase Open.
Lindsay Davenport took advantage of a sprained right wrist by Williams, running off the final nine games for a 7-5, 2-0 victory in Saturday's semifinals at the Home Depot Center.
Williams had been wearing a wrap the entire week for right wrist tendinitis. However, the No. 2 seed said the injury, which forced her to retire, occurred two hours before the start of the match.
"It's something I did this morning going to practice," she said. "I was tying my shoe and just pressed up on my arms and when I pushed off of my wrist, I kind of tweaked it there."
On Sunday, Davenport will face top-seeded Serena Williams who dispatched No. 4 Elena Dementieva of Russia, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the featured night match -- in front of a record crowd of 7,963 -- the largest to attend a women's tennis event in Los Angeles.
"I wanted to come a little bit more aggressive," said Williams, who smacked 36 winners but made 27 unforced errors.
Williams did capitalize on Dementieva's erratic play. Despite 18 winners, Dementieva had 32 unforced errors and handed Williams four games by committing four of her 15 double faults on game points.
"She's a weird player, she strikes winners from positions where she shouldn't but sometimes she does hits errors, and she never gives up," Williams added.
By virtue of a 9-2 head-to-head record, including five consecutive victories dating back to 2000, Williams is the heavy favorite to capture her third title here and the $93,000 winner's check. But Williams doesn't expect an easy time with her Federation Cup teammate.
"Lindsay is playing with a lot of confidence now," Williams said. "She just won one tournament and is playing really well on the hardcourts. So, I can't look at my past record with her, I have to focus on the now."
Davenport is on a roll, winning eight consecutive matches, including the Bank of the West crown against older sister Venus last Sunday at Stanford. But the Southern California native thinks her chances depend on which Serena shows up.
"Serena has such a great serve and is forceful with her shots and shot selection," Davenport said. "She is a fighter who can get balls back. But I don't think you ever know who shows up with Serena. When she's on, it's pretty scary. So the most important is to worry about myself and get off to a little better start. I can (beat her) if I play well."
No matter how the match turns out, Davenport will not be disappointed.
"Win tomorrow, lose tomorrow, I feel really good with where I'm going," she said. "I feel that I've put in a lot of hard work the last number of weeks and one match isn't going to throw me off the path that I feel I'm going on."
Reaching the final here for the eighth time in nine years, Davenport -- a three-time winner here -- admitted she received somewhat of a pass against Venus.
"I'm happy to be in the final, but obviously, I know the playing conditions weren't level today," she said. "I can't really take tons of confidence in that. I'm happy, but I'm realistic about what happened."
Williams held a set point after racing to a 5-0 lead but had begun feeling the pain two games earlier.
"The tape was helping, and I was obviously hitting a lot of forehands and hitting them quite well, but at 3-0 I had issues," said Williams, who was taped by WTA trainer Cathy Ortega on the changeover at 5-4.
"Ever since the changeover at 5-4, it was extremely obvious she was fighting something," Davenport said. "I wasn't sure what it was, but it was very obvious she was having trouble hitting her serve and forehand."
After reeling off the final seven games to capture the opener, Davenport grabbed the first two of the second before Williams retired to put a disappointing end to the match.
"It was pretty obvious she was probably not going to finish the match or compete at a high level," Davenport said. "The last three games were ridiculous."
"It just got tougher and tougher," Williams said. "She made some good shots, but I think it was more that I couldn't play anymore."
Afterward, Williams was treated by tour doctor Asghar Husain, whose findings were incomplete.
"He doesn't know exactly but thinks it's some kind of wrist sprain," Venus said. "(I) won't know until I get tests."
Venus Williams has been hampered by injuries the last two years. The four-time Grand Slam champion sat out the last six months of 2003 with an abdominal strain before being sidelined with assorted ankle injuries this year. She will rest over the weekend and be re-evaluated Monday as to whether she can play in next week's Acura Classic in San Diego, where she has captured three career titles.
Asked if it would be smarter to take the week off, return in Montreal and be healthy for the Olympics and U.S. Open next month, she laughed, "I guess I'm not smart enough."
"I guess I want to meet my goals," she continued. "I want to get into the top 10. It's not a whole lot of fun at all. I just want to be healthy, play good tennis and get into the top 10."
"It's unfortunate," Davenport said. "She's gone through a lot of injuries. Hopefully she gets better, at least to play the U.S. Open, and see what happens."