Thu, Jan 16, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Davenport squeaks through in Oz

HARDBALL A slimmed-down Lindsay Davenport found it hard going to advance from the second round, while Andre Agassi beat Asia's hope Lee Hyung-taik

AP , MELBOURNE

Lindsay Davenport congratulates herself, after her 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, victory over Iroda Tulyaganova at the Australian Open in Melbourne, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Former Australian Open champion Lindsay Davenport rebounded from a disastrous first-set tiebreaker and a 1-3 final-set deficit on Wednesday and reached the third round.

Davenport let a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker slip away and wasted break point opportunities in the final set's eighth game before beating Uzbekistan's Iroda Tulyaganova 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-5.

Three-time men's champion Andre Agassi lost only the first game on his way to a 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 victory over Lee Hyung-taik.

Davenport found a way to win despite trailing Tulyaganova 39-46 in winners and committing more errors, 43-34.

She drew level at 3-all in the final set when her 57th-ranked opponent squandered a 40-15 lead, gave Davenport a break point with a double fault and netted a backhand.

Lucky breaks

In the final game, Tulyaganova netted an easy smash, hit two shots long and then rushed the net on match point, allowing Davenport an easy forehand crosscourt pass.

``Sometimes you're definitely lucky to be in the tournament when you don't play your best,'' Davenport said. ``I'm definitely happy to still be around when some others are not.''

Davenport, winner of the 1998 US Open, 1999 Wimbledon and the 2000 Australian Open, is seeded ninth after missing most of last year because of knee surgery. On her comeback, she reached last year's US Open semifinals.

``I was frustrated with the way I was hitting the ball and was unable to penetrate the court,'' she said. ``A lot of the problems I was having were from poor serving or starting out a rally on the wrong foot.''

Since losing in the first round at the 2000 French Open, Davenport has reached two finals, three semifinals and a quarterfinal in the six Grand Slam events she has played.

Agassi's opponent was fresh from winning a warmup tournament, becoming the first South Korean to take an ATP Tour title, and he won the match's first seven points, going 1-0 ahead and holding three break points.

Turning the match completely around, Agassi won the next 13 points.

``I was seeing the ball pretty well,'' Agassi said. ``He hits the ball so flat, he struggled controlling it early. ... Once you get up, it's a lot easier to make more shots.''

Fourth-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero, who lost to Lee in the Adidas International last Saturday, reached the third round by beating Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-0, 6-4, 6-2.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, besides Agassi the only former men's champion in the field, lost 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. Kafelnikov won the Australian in 1999 and was runner-up in 2000 but was seeded 22nd this time.

Women's draw

On the women's side, fifth-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne needed only 48 minutes to beat former top 10 player Anna Kournikova 6-0, 6-1.

Kournikova, coming back from an ankle injury, double faulted six times, missed most of her volley attempts and committed 29 unforced errors.

Henin-Hardenne, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2001 and a semifinalist last year, next meets No. 32 Katarina Srebotnik, a 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3 winner over Virginie Razzano.

After the stunning first-round loss by defending champion Jennifer Capriati, No. 13 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy became the next highest player to go out. Australian Nicole Pratt beat her 6-3, 6-2.

No. 15 Alexandra Stevenson lost 6-2, 6-2 to Denisa Chladkova, No. 21 Ai Sugiyama fell 6-4, 6-4 to Russian Nadia Petrova.

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