Davenport defeats Mauresmo for Pilot Pen title

August 28, 2005 02:30 AM
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Lindsay Davenport won the Pilot Pen championship Saturday, defeating Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-4, 6-4 after missing nearly two months with a back injury.

Davenport, who was using the Pilot Pen as a tuneup for the U.S. Open that begins Monday, showed few signs of rust, winning the tournament without losing a set. It was Davenport's first title in New Haven, where she had lost four times in the final, three times to Venus Williams and once to Jennifer Capriati.

"That was a big test for my back,'' Davenport said. "It was really important just to play some matches and hopefully get the rust out of my game. Obviously, to win the tournament and going into New York with that under my belt is a great feeling.''

Though her appearance in the final guaranteed she'll reclaim the world's No. 1 spot from Russia's Maria Sharapova on Monday, Davenport will be seeded second at the U.S. Open because the draw was set this week.

Davenport took control of the match early, breaking Mauresmo's serve in the opening game. She also continued to improve her serve, which had been shaky early in the week. Davenport said she felt her service rhythm returning during the semifinals, and it showed Saturday as Mauresmo struggled at times to return cleanly.

That allowed Davenport to play closer to the net and to be more aggressive, a style Mauresmo said she couldn't combat.

``She likes to come in, dictate and make big shots,'' Mauresmo said. ``I gave her the opportunity to play like that.''

Davenport said Saturday's final was the first time this week she'd been able to play that way.

``I think that comes with playing more, the feeling, the confidence that you can come to the net and put balls away,'' she said. ``I think today was a great first step.''

Mauresmo, who endured a three-hour semifinal match and dropped out of the doubles draw because of heat sickness on Friday, had hoped a win over Davenport would give her confidence before heading to New York to seek her first grand slam win.

Davenport improved to 10-3 in matches against Mauresmo. She has won their last six meetings, including a close semifinal match at Wimbledon this year.

``That's the way it is,'' Mauresmo said. ``Streaks are made to be broken, and I hope each time it's going to be this time.''

James Blake, who grew up in nearby Fairield, will face Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the men's championship Sunday. Blake endured a close match with several rain delays to beat Romania's Victor Hanescu, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-1.

Lopez beat countryman David Ferrer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal Saturday.