Davenport, Serena hope to get game on track

August 8, 2006 04:08 PM
Lindsay Davenport has not played since mid-March because of a back injury© Donald Miralle/Getty Images
CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- Battling injuries all year, Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams are simply happy to be healthy enough to play the JPMorgan Chase Open.

Williams, who has played just one tournament in the past six months because of lingering right knee problems, said it is "just about being here and playing and doing the best that I can do.''

Davenport, idle since mid-March due to a back injury, said she wants to see where her game is after just a month of practice, adding that hopefully by the time U.S. Open comes around, she'll have played enough that she can be a factor in the year's final Grand Slam.

The Carson tournament, the third stop on the WTA Tour's California swing, got under way Monday with Americans Ashley Harkleroad, Vania King and Bethanie Mattek among the first-round winners.

The 30-year-old Davenport, who has won the event four times, still is No. 10 in the world and the fourth seed here.

Williams, a wild card entrant, has slipped to No. 108 because she hasn't played much. She joked that the first goal in her comeback is to get back into the top 100.

Davenport said she was relatively pain-free by early May, regained normal range of motion and hit balls a couple of times. She never set a date for her return.

"I felt like when I wanted to pick up my racket again, I would,'' she said.

Then in early July she got a push from her husband, Jon Leach, who told her to hit a few and see how it felt.

"So I started practicing again, and it kind of led me to the steps that I've taken,'' Davenport said. "There wasn't a lot of thought going into it. You just kind of go with what feels natural. When I started practicing again and slowly started doing more and more, it seemed like fun.''

So even though she believes her comeback may be a bit premature, Davenport said starting it in an event she's won four times was too good an opportunity to pass up.

"I certainly don't think I'm going to make a fool of myself,'' she said. "I just don't know what kind of expectations to put on myself when I'm not really sure where I'm at.''

Three weeks ago, in her first tournament since the Australian Open, Williams reached the semifinals at Cincinnati. Then she withdrew from the event in nearby Carlsbad, Calif., to rest her knee.

She said Monday that her knee was fine.

"Physically I think I'm close to 100 percent,'' said Williams, a two-time champion of this event. "I'm really confident or else I wouldn't be out here. I don't feel (there will be) any problems as to me getting back to the top at all.

"If I wasn't into it or if I wasn't hungry, then I don't think I would be out here, I don't think I would even be playing anymore, because I think I've done enough to retire, if that's what I wanted. But that's definitely not what I want.''