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September 6, 2002

Lindsay Davenport


THE MODERATOR: First question for Lindsay, please.

Q. What seemed like a nice big 5-3 lead there, then all of a sudden... Serena just starts serving unbelievably. What happened?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I mean, a player that's had an incredible year. You know, nothing seemed to bother her, especially obviously the biggest game -- well, the closest game was at 5-4, three set points - you know, two really well-placed first serves and a second serve at, you know, 92 on the line or whatever it was. That's incredible playing at a tight time. I wish I had been able to serve a little bit better of a game. You know, she just came up with some big serves at the right time the whole match, and, you know, really big game to just hang in there in the second set.

Q. That first -- when you were down on set point, she had 102 mile-per-hour right inside the line. You stood there and looked down at the line for a minute. What goes through an athlete's mind, somebody makes such a perfect shot?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, it's tough. You hope to get in that position, and, you know, if someone can come up with the goods at that point, you definitely have to shake your head and say, "That's too good." It's tough with her. She has both serves. You almost have to guess a lot of times. When she's hitting a first serve, I suppose it's a little bit like Pete. The guys just don't know where he's going. I didn't really ever have a good clue on where she's going. Especially on the big points, she mixed it up well. You know, I was disappointed, but you look back now and you just have to say, "That's too good," on those three points that she played.

Q. Is there any part of you that can appreciate the level that she's getting to, she's arrived at, or is still getting to?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I think that, you know, her serve is fantastic. You know, she served a really big match the whole match. And, you know, I think her ground strokes are good but she still threw in a lot of errors today. I should have won the second set or could have won the second set and had my chances. So she's definitely getting better, but I still thought that I had some good chances out there.

Q. How much of your own lack of match play factored into this particular match?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't think it did.

Q. Amelie pushed Venus pretty hard. You pushed Serena. Does this give everybody a little hope that if you get better you can break this up?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Who knows? I mean, both matches, at the big moments, they stepped it up, you know, an incredible level. I mean, Venus, I think the last game was Love-40, the game was over pretty quickly. Same with my match. But, you know, I think Amelie and I, we're competitive. At the same token, you know, we had our chances out there. Maybe people are happy all the matches were competitive, but I think we're both disappointed that we weren't able to go further.

Q. Two sisters meeting in their fourth Grand Slam final. How amazing is that to you?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Most amazing thing in sports almost. I mean, it's amazing. You know, everyone, like I've said before, I mean, could you imagine Tiger Woods challenging a sibling to go head-to-head for all the majors? And in an individual sport, no less. They don't have teammates to help them along. They both have different -- I mean, I think different attributes that makes them good players. I mean, they're similar in their athletic ability and shots, but they are two different players out there and have both learned to, you know, be at the top.

Q. About you, it's a disappointment today. But if someone told you three months ago you'd be in the semifinals of the US Open, would you have taken that?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, it's tough to say that now. I just came off the court and, you know, Robert is obviously very happy and just said, "Oh, just think how far you came to get here." But at the same token, little less than an hour after the match, having my chances to at least pull out the second set, it's disappointing. But definitely I have come a long, long way. I still think I can get better, and that's why I'm going to keep playing. If I didn't think I could get better, if I had plateaued, it would be tough to keep coming back. But I do think I can still improve.

Q. New Haven you were one game away from taking a set from Venus. Today you were one game away from taking a set from Serena. Do you feel like when they're challenged, it's waking a sleeping giant, it makes it worse?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, they definitely, right now being at the top, have the confidence to step up their game when it's close and when they're down. A lot of times that is all confidence and that is all belief in yourself. They definitely have that now with just their success over the last 12 months. Hopefully, the more I'm out here and the more I'm playing, hopefully be able to finally serve one of these sets out.

Q. Pete and Andre have had a great rivalry because of the differences in their games and personalties. Do you think Venus and Serena are capable of that because they're sisters, or are they different enough that they can have that?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think in any rivalry it's great when you have two different styles of play or just a little bit of contrast in the players. So, you know, it's tough for them because they do play similar games, and it's very tough to get a very good match with two power hitters. Power hitters sometimes like the balls a little softer, it's hard to get a rally going when they both have such huge serves. But, again, I'm sure they'll get better and better playing against each other. It must be a very difficult situation. They really seem to only play each other in these big tournaments, so there's also a lot of pressure on them at that time as well.

Q. Looking at tomorrow, who do you like? Who wins?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, gosh... (Smiling). I don't know. I mean, it seems like Venus has struggled a little bit more this tournament than Serena. But I haven't watched any of the three -- have they played -- two matches they've played this year, I don't know. I didn't see any of them. I'm not sure how Serena has been winning. But, you know, I mean, I guess -- I can't -- I don't even know what to say. I have no idea, to be honest (laughing).

Q. Serena's improvement, how much of it is mental? Do you see her thinking her way better through matches? Do you think it's just pure physical improvement?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think it's confidence. I think that came with winning probably her first major since the US Open here all those years ago, so probably the French. Her game is, I think, you know, the same, except she's stepping it up on the bigger points. All that's confidence. And her serve has always been good. It's probably better now. So that's a big part of her game. I know she's been trying to cut out some errors. But I think it's just her belief in herself has gone up quite a bit.

Q. Do you think last year at this time Serena Williams could have held off three set points against you?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't know (smiling). I don't know.

Q. In terms of just the confidence change, is that kind of the difference?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I think. I mean, she's played a phenomenal tournament this year. She's played a phenomenal three Slams in a row. I mean, that's tough to do. Consistency in her game has definitely gone up. I would say, yeah. I mean, I think she played the bigger points better today than she did last year when I played her here.

Q. Does Serena do more with her serve than Venus?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: She places it a lot better.

Q. How do you feel about having the opportunity to play in this era with the Williamses playing as prolific as they are?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I feel very fortunate and I feel very fortunate that, you know, I'm at the top of the game with them. It's an incredible time. I've played through probably two different eras, I played a little bit with Navratilova, a lot with Graf, a lot with Seles. It's a different ballgame now and much more athletic ,much harder balls, much better placement on serves. It's only getting better so far.

Q. Does it provide an opportunity to raise your game?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I'm trying. I mean, you definitely have to. You have to get better or you're going to fall in the rankings and not be competitive anymore. So it's definitely a lot of pressure to keep your game up and keep it consistent, but keep getting better as well.

Q. Sports fans love to compare eras. If you could even rank Serena, Venus, Graf and Navratilova on a slow hard court, how would you put them one, two, three, four?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's the one thing you can never do in tennis. You cannot compare eras because it's not a level playing field. They didn't have the same equipment. They didn't have any of the same stuff. I've always been a big believer you can't compare Sampras and Laver, you can't compare all these people. You just go with what you're given. You know, I think last night they were showing McEnroe played Chang here in 1990. Chang's hardest first serve was 105. His second first serves were going in the 60s. That's only been ten years ago. You can see women's tennis has gotten better. It's not really fair. Navratilova didn't have to come up with huge second serves because no one was attacking then. So it's very difficult to ever do that, I believe.

Q. Putting it a different way, do you feel Navratilova and Graf could obviously, in their primes and with equipment, compete and be with the Williamses?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Sure. Once you get used to something, I don't think you could take Steffi Graf from 1998 against Venus Williams of 2002. Steffi didn't have to play against that kind of power or shape her game around it. So, you know, I just think that's really difficult to say.

Q. At this stage, do you now work on things to beat specific players or do you just do the normal thing where you're working on keeping your strengths strong?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I think that I could probably do a few things to kind of maybe be a little bit more prepared to play Venus and Serena next time, getting ready for some -- you play girls and you serve a good serve at 104, 105, it doesn't come back. You play against them, it comes back hard and deep. Sometimes you're not ready for those balls to come back. But, you know, I don't know. I mean, for right now I'll probably take a week off and just let my body recover, and then get back out there and try and always work on my serve and just try and keep running more balls down.

Q. When the two sisters came along, four, five years ago, did you have any qualms about whether they could make it given the way that the father was coaching them, the lack of junior playing?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I mean, I think everyone has their doubts and everyone has their feelings until someone actually does it. It's the same with anybody. But certainly they took a unique way -- a unique path in how they kind of went up the pro ranks, and it's amazing. I mean, they've always had the potential, but then you have to put it together mentally and consistently. They've been able to do that the last two years.

Q. When Serena won in '99 here, the first time, a lot of people thought that Richard was right and that she was going to end up being the better of the two sisters. Venus ran off all those Opens and Wimbledons. Are they interchangeable now, or do you feel Serena is clearly superior to Venus?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Time will tell. I mean, they're pretty even right now I think in Slams won, how it's been. Like I said, it's unfortunate they always play each other in the finals because I don't think they do play their best because it's so hard. But really, time will tell on that, both very good players, both very similar. It's really tough to say.

Q. Is it even totally different when people were chasing Martina a couple years ago and had to raise their level when she was No. 1, is it that significant a difference now beating Serena and Venus, raising your play to get to that level?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Someone has to raise the level of their play and do it consistently. When you're talking about a Slam, you know, it's tough to beat one of them, let alone two of them, and they're both getting there in the later rounds. So it looks like if you're going to win a Slam, you're going to have to go through both of them now. So it's, you know, it's gonna be tough. I don't know what to say. Everyone's asking always about that, but I've said before, worry about my own game. I don't feel I'm out here to break up a Williams final. I'm here to see if I can get to the finals.

Q. What player makes you feel as though you're the most pressed?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Both the Williams. You get the sense you play them that you can't let up, can't just get balls in, because then they can hit winners. It's very hard to break both of them. And, yeah, I mean, it's a lot more pressure than the other players I faced.

Q. Chanda had a lot of luck coming in and constantly coming in, coming in, coming in, volleying and pressure. Is that something that would be successful?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: She does that a little bit better than I do, a little bit more athletic up there (laughing). Yeah, I mean, it's something that I feel comfortable against certain players doing it against. It's very hard when you don't get a lot of short balls and you're dealing with a lot of power. Yeah, she did have a lot of success doing that. I did see that the other day.

Q. The loss today has to sting pretty bad. Your reemergence from the injury and rehabbing has been extraordinary. If you had to summarize, what would you say?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: One word... Surprising. 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. 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 and have a chance at all these tournaments. You know, I really thought I would kind of write this year off and start back after I played a number of tournaments and get back in the swing of things next year. It hasn't quite gone that way.

Q. Do you think you have a shot at making the finals in LA?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I better. I've seen the list and I see some people up there that I haven't even really heard of that much. I'm hoping I can get somewhere near the Top 16. I really hope to play in LA.

Q. You're going to play a full schedule in the fall?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I plan to play three tournaments in Europe and then, you know, I guess if I'm really close, maybe play the last one. And then I'm hoping I'm close. I'm hoping I don't have to stay in Europe four or five weeks to try and make it.

Q. When you said you can work on some specific things toward Venus and Serena, what were you talking about?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think again, returning serves that come at 110 and 114. I mean, no other player on the tour does that. It's very hard all of a sudden to go out there and face someone that serves so much harder. Get ready for balls to come back that you're not really used to and try and practice with a little bit more pace.

Q. How do you do that? Do you practice against men?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I got to get Robert to get better, run down more balls... No. I mean, maybe do some more two-on-ones, so when you hit a ball, someone's always there getting it back. I don't know. It's something I feel when I go out there, sometimes I'm not used to some of the balls coming as hard as they do. If someone serves too good, they serve too good. But you always want to give yourself the best chance.

Q. What do you estimate that Robert hits?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: He tries his hardest obviously when I play. I'm just saying like maybe concentrate more on practicing at home against -- have him hit it harder. I don't know. We haven't talked about it. You know, maybe, you know, we have our set routine, but maybe we'll throw in a few things where someone -- he tries to hit a little harder.

Q. A number of the players this summer have identified themselves as being really capable of winning with the Williams sisters competing really well. Beyond that Top 10 at the moment, who are some of the younger players who you think could come through next year or so and press them as well?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, you know, I don't know how young you want me to go. I've been really impressed with - and I always say her name wrong - Daniela Hantuchova. I've heard it pronounced so many different ways. I think she has a really big game, and I think she can go up the ranks, even higher than some people that are already in the Top 10. I think that she -- the older she gets and the more experience she gets, I think she's got a good chance out there. I also think the girl, Bovina, that I played in the quarters here, I played her in Los Angeles as well, I thought she had a big game in Los Angeles. Again, I mean, I always look for big games. And, you know, I don't -- when I play someone, I'm more impressed with someone that can serve hard and hit winners than someone that runs balls down. I think that's kind of the way tennis is going. So those are two girls.

End of FastScripts….

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