Sharapova wins, Davenport derailed

August 9, 2006 11:42 PM
Lindsay Davenport 225 w

CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- Throwing out her pride along with 10 double-faults, Lindsay Davenport's comeback ended with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3 loss to Australian Samantha Stosur in the JPMorgan Chase Open on Wednesday.

Out since March because of a back injury, Davenport battled her own errors and lack of fitness in her first tournament since Indian Wells.

She started hitting balls in early July at the urging of her husband, without a specific comeback date in mind. But the lure of playing her hometown tournament brought Davenport out.

"Three weeks just wasn't enough time," she said. "I kind of thought that coming in here, but I felt a strong desire to play here, so that overrode the pride factor."

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova routed Anastassia Rodionova of Russia 6-3, 6-1. After Rodionova earned her only break of the match at 3-2 in the first set, Sharapova broke twice, losing just three points on her serve in the set.

"She played a pretty good game when she broke me," Sharapova said. "She hit some lucky returns that landed on the line. After that, I stepped it up and returned really well."

Sharapova is commuting from her home near the beach this week.

"It's nice," she said. "I walked the dog in the morning, went to my local gym, had lunch with my family. It's really convenient. I have all my friends watching."

Serena Williams continued her comeback, beating Ashley Harkleroad 6-3, 6-2 in a second-round match that was nearly as easy as her straight-set victory over 11th-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia on Tuesday.

"It wasn't as strong as yesterday," said Williams, cuddling Jackie, her strangely clipped Jack Russell terrier. "I felt a little lazy. We were both a little up and down. It was weird."

Maria Sharapova 225 w
Ranked 110th, Williams is playing her second tournament since mid-January after a knee injury. Her next opponent will be seventh-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, a 7-6 (2), 6-2 winner over Lisa Raymond.

Williams lost to Hantuchova in the Australian Open in January, and then didn't play again until Cincinnati last month.

"I'm a much better player than I was in Australia," Williams said. "I'm much more fit, I'm much more ready. I'm in a better place."

It was Davenport's earliest tournament exit in 3 1/2 years, since a second-round loss to Ai Sugiyama in Scottsdale, Ariz., in February 2003.

"I don't regret it," she said. "It's a long road back after every injury. I didn't really care (about losing). I wanted to see where I was at. Hopefully, the next time you see me I'll be much sharper."

Davenport led 4-1 in the first-set tiebreaker before Stosur tied it at 4. The American won the final three points, including two on Stosur's backhand errors.

Stosur earned the only service break of the second set at 3-2. She closed out the set on a forehand passing shot. After a brief break because of the heat, Stosur raced to a 5-3 lead in the third. Davenport, a four-time winner here who was seeded fourth, double-faulted on match point.

"She threw in some double-faults at bad times," Stosur said. "You kind of don't expect it from a player of her level."

Stosur improved to 21-16 in singles matches this year. She has yet to win a WTA tour singles title, although she forms the tour's top doubles team with Lisa Raymond. They won this year's French Open title and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon.

"I served one of my best matches today and that really got me going the rest of the match," said Stosur, who had 15 aces. "That maybe put a little more pressure on her. I was able to keep my foot down."

The victory was Stosur's first over Davenport in four career meetings. She advanced by walkover last year when Davenport had bronchitis in the quarterfinals at Sydney.

Davenport has an 8-4 match record in four tournaments this year, with the U.S. Open three weeks away. She has slipped to 10th in the rankings.

"I have tons and tons of things to get better," she said. "I just wasn't reacting as well as you need to be. It stinks, but it is a step forward for me."

She plans to play New Haven, Conn., the week before the Open begins. She also recently rehired Adam Peterson as her coach, at her husband's urging.

"He called Adam up and was talking to him. He lives 15 minutes away," Davenport said. "Adam tried working with another player and that didn't work. He was home and I was home. Where I am right now, he's perfect for me."

Other winners Wednesday were sixth-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany; No. 14 Shahar Peer of Israel; and 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France.