Sun, Mar 14, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Davenport excels after surgery with win in Indian Wells

AP , INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

A pain-free Lindsay Davenport breezed to an opening victory over Italy's Mara Santangelo in the Pacific Life Open on Friday.

Continuing her comeback from a foot injury that slowed her last year, Davenport needed just 41 minutes to defeat Santangelo 6-0, 6-0.

Davenport already has won once this year, beating Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria in straight sets at the Pan Pacific Open final on Feb. 2.

Davenport won just one event in 2003 and underwent foot surgery in October for Morton's neuroma, a nerve condition that caused recurring pain between the third and fourth toes on her left foot.

Doctors severed a nerve between the toes to relieve the pain.

"It was just very annoying. It [the surgery] made such a difference. I wish I'd had it done earlier last year," Davenport said. "I wouldn't have played for a few months with it bothering me so much.

"Just mentally, it makes me a lot more excited now to get up and start playing tennis and working out and doing the stuff I need to do."

Describing her brief match against Santangelo, Davenport said, ``Not much to say. I thought I played great, moved well, hit the ball well, and that was that.''

Davenport, ranked No. 4, is a two-time Indian Wells champion. She defeated Switzerland's Martina Hingis for the title in 2000 after beating Irina Spirlea of Romania in 1997. Davenport has made the final four times in the past seven years, losing to Belgium's Kim Clijsters last year and Hingis in 1998.

Clijsters began defense of her title on Friday with methodical 6-1, 6-3 victory over Angelika Roesch of Germany.

Daniela Hantuchova, the 2002 tournament champion, made a hasty exit, ousted by America's Marissa Irvin in a tiebreaker. Irvin downed the Slovakian 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3).

Gala Leon Garcia of Spain defeated Jelena Dokic of Serbia and Montenegro 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Dokic, ranked No. 16, also lost her opening match at Indian Wells last year.

Beginning the men's open draw, Tommy Haas of Germany won for the first time since coming back from shoulder surgery. Haas, who had the operation in December 2002 and missed last season, defeated Sweden's Thomas Enqvist for the eighth consecutive time, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Haas who finished World No. 8 in 2001, holds a 9-2 career mark against Enqvist.

Haas was pleased to get that first win out of the way.

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