Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001
MELBOURNE, Australia -- There was a time when Lindsay Davenport's self-esteem might have collapsed under the kind of inspection bestowed on her since the Australian Open began.
First, there were remarks by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash that were printed -- and reprinted -- in local newspapers. "Put her in the shot put instead," Cash reportedly said.
Two days ago, there was an unflattering picture of her body in a tabloid with the headline: "The Big Debate. Can You be Fat and Fit at the Same Time?"
And Tuesday night, she was standing across the court from the pinup player that WTA Tour officials have plastered on every calendar, tennis guide and Web site. But against Anna Kournikova, inside an arena filled with the Russian's supporters, Davenport delivered a comeback to the comments. She simply won, and won big.
Overwhelming Kournikova with her serve, putting pressure on her quarterfinal opponent with the depth of her groundstrokes, Davenport advanced to the semifinals to play Jennifer Capriati with a 6-4, 6-2 victory. After the match, Davenport, whose fitness has improved through the years, thoughtfully confronted the critiques of her physique.
"At first, I was like, "Oh, I didn't know it was such a big issue,' " Davenport said. "You know, people here seem to be really into that. I try and look at it this way: Here's my results. I've never fooled anyone like I'm the fastest person or the skinniest person or anything like that. I mean, I know my game. I work hard at it and do the best I can with what I was born with. That's not good enough for some people.
"Whenever you're at the top of anything, whatever profession it is, you're always going to have people try to knock you down a little bit. If this is what people try to knock me down with, I can take it. I'm the one out here in the semifinals."
UP FOR GRABS: Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe still has 41-year-old brother John in contention for the fourth spot on the U.S. team. It might be a long shot, but the captain could give the slot to a young, up-and-coming American like Andy Roddick.
"It would be great to have Andy there," said Todd Martin, who, along with Jan-Michael Gambill and Chris Woodruff, is on the team. "Patrick's got his hands tied a bit with not having necessarily the luxury to invite guys to give them experience. There's no obvious four guys that should be part of this team."
EARLY EXIT: Pete Sampras departed earlier than planned when Martin upset him on Sunday. He wasn't pleased with his on-court results, but he did seem content with the life of being a newlywed. His wife of nearly four months, actress Bridgette Wilson, was in the players box when he lost and at his side when he left town.
Sampras was asked if he and his wife were planning to have children while his tennis career was still in progress. "No," Sampras said with a sly smile. "But I don't mind surprises."
FAMILY CHEER: The Rafter clan may tap out the tournament's batch of comp tickets, which are reserved for family members. As Patrick Rafter continues to move through the draw after his quarterfinal win against Dominik Hrbaty on Tuesday night, the Australian's large family keeps trickling into town.
Rafter is the third youngest of nine children. Already, six of his siblings have shown up to support their brother. Rafter's next match is against Andre Agassi in the semifinals.