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September 3, 2002

Lindsay Davenport


MODERATOR: Questions for Lindsay.

Q. What happened in that first set?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Just a tough match. She's a good player. I had a number of games where I had game points where I didn't capitalize on them. I think three games where I probably was up 40-15. Just she kind of overpowered me a bit in the beginning. I wasn't used to someone serving that hard, considering the players I've played. It was a bit of a wake-up call, took me a while to get into it. I had to fight really hard to turn the match around, turn it in my favor. I'm happy that I was able to come through. You know, everybody though the last two sets were 0-2, it was still I thought a tough match.

Q. What does it mean to get this far?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's amazing. I mean, I really could have never said that this would happen, especially after January and February. I mean, it was just impossible in my mind. I was just hoping to be able to play here. You know, I've had a favorable draw, aspects of the players I've played haven't been highly ranked. Today, I think she's quickly going up the ladder in terms of the ranking. It's an amazing feeling. I really think this is one of my better achievements, just to be able to come back from everything this year and get to the semis of a Slam, still be in it, be a contender.

Q. Except for a little bit on the serve, you look like you're basically hitting the ball as well as you did last year. Do you feel that way?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Today I felt I hit the ball great. Even though I lost that first set, I had a few errors, but I felt it was the best I hit the ball this tournament even. No, I didn't serve great. That even shows me that I can still win even if I don't serve well. My body feels really good. I mean, it's really the biggest win I've had in my comeback, I would say that. I'm just really, really happy about it.

Q. You looked pretty excited.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. I can't even describe it. To do well in a Slam. You know, for some reason here, I've started to reflect on things I've gone through, and I don't know why. I mean, I just wanted to play here so badly and do well. I'm so happy that I was able to do it so far.

Q. Martina Hingis said it was a very odd feeling for her to come into a tournament like this with diminished expectations of herself. Did you feel that way coming in ? Has that changed now?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I still had high expectations, even though I haven't played a Slam this year. I think those expectations were also put on me with the seeding of 4, going by what the WTA recommended. I mean, technically I'm where I'm supposed to be. But in my mind I think I'm ahead of where I'm supposed to be. I think this year a lot of players have had a lot of trouble back from being out from surgeries on both tours. I really think that I've been able to adapt really well. It's hard to do that. I'm really happy about it.

Q. It must be really hard to suffer a tough injury like you had, possibly threatening your career. What have you been reflecting about coming to the US Open?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, the last few weeks, I was really happy to be playing, but I think I got away from the fact where, you know, how far I really have come. It's not to be emotional or dramatic about it, but just not being able to move my leg more than 25 degrees for the first few days, like fighting just to try and get one more degree for the day and end where I'm supposed to be, just being in a hospital alone. I mean, all those kind of things. You know, sitting in that machine, I've talked about many times, eight hours a day for eight weeks, almost put me like in an institution. It was driving me crazy. Then to come out and just still be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam, still have a great summer, I don't know why I'm reflecting on it now. I have no idea.

Q. Maybe because of all the rain.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, exactly. So much free time here sitting around (laughter).

Q. I know you now play on show courts all the time, at the same time you came up playing on the outer courts. I'm doing a story about the outer courts. What kind of memories do you have of the outer courts? What do you miss about them?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't miss a lot (laughter). The first few times you're here, obviously it's very exciting to be at The Open. The first time I was here was 1990, playing the Juniors. '91 was my first year in the main draw. I remember losing on an outside court to Debbie Graham, who is one of my good friends. It's just funny how that works out. I'm very happy to have had the experience of playing many, many matches on the show courts. But some of the outside courts are more fun than others. I think you could get a real, you know, intimate feeling when there were bleachers. Some of the courts, when I was playing my first few Opens had like one row. I think they've done a great job of making sure every singles court now has at least a few rows.

Q. Is there a feeling when you're a younger player, "I'm on these outer courts, but I want to get to the big one"?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: There's that feeling and then when you walk on the big court, "Oh, my God, this is so much bigger than I thought it would be." Obviously then you're playing a great player. You have different emotions besides what court you're on.

Q. When you play now with doubles on some of the smaller courts the fans are right on top of you, reach out and touch you. How much do you hear their conversations?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think it's not some of the fans, it's the court itself. It seems like you have a lot less room to run around. All of a sudden you have a backdrop, which is great, instead of rows of fans. It's easier to see. It feels in my mind the court is a lot smaller. Obviously, the dimensions are the same. By the side fences are a lot closer.

Q. A lot of fans and media respect you for your independence, stand-up kind of woman. Today we're kind of shocked to see you come in with this Tommy Haas sleeveless shirt on. Are you falling into the latest fashion trend here?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't know what's wrong with my shirt. It's just a normal shirt. I'm sorry. It's a shirt I wear all the time.

Q. Has nothing to do with Tommy Haas' effort to change tennis customs?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't know how many girls wear sleeveless shirts. It's probably 95% of the players. I don't give a crap what Tommy Haas wears in his match. I'm sorry.

Q. Is Serena too much for you now? Can you say, "I reached the semis, happy to be there, she's probably just playing at a different level"?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I've said it, and I haven't hesitated, they are definitely at a level above everyone else. Before you group all these other players in there, other players have to knock them off. Certainly it's a huge challenge. I'm very happy I have two days now to prepare for my match on Friday. You know, certainly if I lose, I could walk away with that. I really don't want to. We've had a lot of tough matches here at The Open. I think last year I lost 7-5 in the third, maybe, in the quarters, really tough match. I haven't played her yet. I'm happy to get a chance to play her instead of Venus. I've played Venus a number of times this summer. It's nice to see someone else. I'm just going to go out there and play. I definitely don't want to go home with that attitude. It's hard to think ahead, though, to say to play her yet. I'm totally not there mentally yet.

Q. On the off chance that Hantuchova wins tonight, you played her once a year or so ago. Have you had a chance to watch her at all this year?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I saw last night they showed her tiebreaker. I thought that she had a really gutsy performance coming out over a pretty nasty fall the other night and was still able to pull that out. I think she is going to be a very good player. I don't know about the outcome tonight. You know, I'll just wait and see who I play. But I think she's very good, has a lot of weapons, has a really bright future.

Q. So you're in the tank of death rehabbing. Do you think about the semifinals in the US Open against Serena ?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: No. It was a lot of trepidation about coming back, what would happen when I do come back. Will I still win matches? Will I lose to players I wouldn't have lost to before? Will I contend again? I think that I had a lot, a lot of doubts. To be able to go through this whole summer and really prove myself wrong with those has been a big step. You know, anyone who has surgery, it's a long road back. Certainly my road was no different from everybody else's. When you've never done it before, at this point of your career, you're definitely really scared.

Q. What turned things for you after the first set? In addition to rehabbing physically, do you have to rehab mentally to hang in there?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I think so. I mean, I had a lot of chances that first set, a lot of games where I could have won, and didn't. You know, I was really -- I really got off to a great start in the second set. That helped me in getting up that early break, then being able to hold. Even 4-Love in the second set, down Love-40, I hung in there and fought hard to still hold there. I thought I started to compete a lot better this match than other matches, fought hard for some long games, even like the last game was deuce a number of times. Just thought I was then able to control the points a little bit better and started to return a lot better. I thought I was missing too many returns in the beginning to really, really threaten her to break. Once I started returning a little bit better, I thought my whole game kind of then picked up a notch.

Q. But do you have to build yourself up mentally as well as physically?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, yeah. The first few tournaments was, "Where do I hit this ball? Can I make this ?" Now it's, "You've got to learn how to fight for games even when you're down, hang in there no matter what happens."

Q. This could be the third year in a row you play Serena.


Q. You kind of shocked her the year after she won. She took that tough match from you last year. Do you relish the battle? Do you have fond memories of the battle or do you only think positively when you won?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: No, I have fond memories of every match we've played here. I really think -- I think I lost to Martina Hingis in '97. Since then I've only lost to either Serena or Venus here. Really tough matches with Serena. I mean, one year was 6-4 in the third. The next year I beat her. Last year was 7-5 in the third. You know, she's definitely a different player today than she probably was a year ago. But at the same token, we've had a lot of great battles here. I don't regret any of them or don't look down on any of them.

Q. You've been off tour, but can you say how she's a different player?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's hard. I haven't played her. The matches that I've watched, she's really cut down on her unforced errors. They've always been very hard shots to retrieve. When she does not give you free points either, it's hard to do that. I saw her play the other day against Bedanova. She's not a really pressing player, so a lot of the balls were there for Serena to attack. At the same token, she had a phenomenal performance.

Q. Golf players are talking openly, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, about Tiger's influence on the game, the fact that it's challenged them more, forced them to raise and elevate the level of their play. Do you feel in the WTA right now that the Williams sisters are having that impact? If so, is it enticing to play where you do have to challenge yourself?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I mean, the players, everyone, is going to have to raise their level. They've proven over the last year that they are the two best players in the world. If anyone else wants to get into that mix and really be talked about in the same breath as those two, you have to raise the level of your game and you have to do it at the big moments like the US Open, like any Slam. They've been really, really tough in Grand Slams. It's pretty amazing that out of the last four Grand Slams, they've played each other in the finals three times. Not a lot of other players are obviously challenging them. I think it's very similar to Tiger, if Tiger had a little brother that was always, you know, going down the 18th neck and neck with him. It's going to be tough. The players aren't for sure giving up. We're still working very hard to do it. You never know what happens.

Q. Will playing her be the best measure for you to figure out where your game is, how far you've come back from this injury?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, I hope so. There's a lot of chances it could. I mean, it's a big match. It's a big situation. These are the moments where as a player you live for and you need to play your best. There's no, "I just played bad today." It will be a good test. I can't answer you if I'm really ready. I haven't played this big a match in a year probably.

Q. You won't know until you play?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Exactly, I won't. Probably the biggest match I've played was, you know, here last year, maybe in Munich. It's going to be a great test, something that I have nothing to lose, something that I really hope I can play at a really, really high level.

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