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Davenport surprising even herself

By Times wires and staff reports
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

NEW YORK -- Nobody was more shocked by Lindsay Davenport's run to the Open semifinals than Davenport.

In January the 26-year-old former No. 1 had knee surgery. She was unable to practice until May and made her return in July, performing well in several Open tuneups, but not against loaded fields.

"I think, as you've seen with other players, it's very tough to come back and compete at a high level after being out so long," Davenport said. "I've surprised myself with how I've been able to just jump right back into the full mix of things and be a contender. I really kind of thought I would kind of write this year off and start back after I played a number of tournaments and get back into the swing of things next year." MAMA'S GIRL: In an interview with the New York Post, the Williams' sisters other parent, mother Oracene Williams, said she favored Venus over Serena in the final. "It would be nice (if Venus won)," she said. "But I'm not going to say it though because (Serena) would kill me."

PAST AND PRESENT: With Serena and Venus Williams on top of women's tennis, many have asked how they would fare against stars of past eras such as Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. "You cannot compare eras because it's not a level playing field," Davenport said. "They didn't have the same equipment. They didn't have any of the same stuff."

REMEMBER THESE GUYS?: John McEnroe and Boris Becker engaged in a battle of the aged: Becker won $50,000 for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation by beating McEnroe 6-4, 7-5 before the women's final.

GOOD RATINGS: TV ratings were up for the women's semifinals. CBS coverage Friday drew an overnight rating of 3.0, 11 percent higher than last year's 2.7.

ODDS AND ENDS: During Pete Sampras' semifinal win over Sjeng Schalken, Sampras changed rackets, and as he made the switch one fan yelled, "Use the one I gave you." ... Former Florida star Lisa Raymond teamed with Mike Bryan to win the mixed doubles title. Bryan's twin brother, Bob, was on the losing team.

DRUG TESTING: The ATP hopes to begin testing for the banned endurance-enhancing substance EPO within weeks. The player council met two days before the start of the Open and indicated it was in favor of testing, spokesman David Higdon said.

-- KEITH NIEBUHR, Times wires

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