Davenport wants to wrap up Fed Cup quarters before Super Bowl

Updated: February 1, 2008, 7:26 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- The Fed Cup quarterfinal between the United States and Germany was scheduled by Europeans who apparently don't know the difference between Tom Brady and Marcia Brady.

Even the tennis players want to get the tournament wrapped up in time to watch the Super Bowl.

With Lindsay Davenport playing two of the first three matches, that's entirely possible.

"We're trying so hard. Trying hard," Davenport said after Friday's draw. "Don't worry, that's been on my ear from my husband the whole time: 'What time do you think we'll be home? Don't have it come down to the doubles. I don't want you to play the doubles.' No, no, we're going to work our best to make sure that happens."

In Davenport's case, there's a pretty good reason why.

"I'm like a psycho Tom Brady fan," she said. "Oh my gosh, he's like my dream guy."

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Davenport is continuing her comeback after giving birth to her first child with husband and former Southern California tennis player Jon Leach -- a son named Jagger -- on June 10. She's the big name in a quarterfinal in which the Americans are heavily favored over the young Germans.

Davenport, the top U.S. singles player here, will face Germany's No. 2, Sabine Lisicki, in Saturday's opening match in a 3,000-seat temporary stadium at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Fed Cup rookie Ashley Harkleroad, the No. 2 American, will face the top German singles player, Tatjana Malek.

Three matches are scheduled for Sunday, beginning with Davenport vs. Malek in a match that could clinch the quarterfinal for the U.S. Also Sunday, Harkleroad will face Lisicki, and the doubles match is scheduled to be Davenport and Lisa Raymond against Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

Sunday's schedule was moved up a few hours so the tournament can theoretically be finished before kickoff of the Super Bowl between the New York Giants and Brady's New England Patriots, who beat the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.

"It's an international event. They probably don't comprehend the American day that is the Super Bowl," Davenport said. "That's a shame. Hopefully we're starting early enough that people will still come out to support us and can still get home for their fun."

Whether Davenport and her husband will have time to get back up the freeway to their Laguna Beach home to watch the Super Bowl remains to be seen.

U.S. captain Zina Garrison said American officials would have preferred a Friday-Saturday tournament instead of Saturday-Sunday, "because we all do want to watch the game."

She'll be watching in her hotel room.

"I've got a nice flat screen. I'm ready," she said.

Regardless, this could turn into the 31-year-old Davenport's own little tournament, what with her comeback, her Southern California roots and being scheduled to play three matches. If the Americans clinch before the doubles, the lineup can be changed.

"It's fantastic. I mean, obviously, logistics-wise, it couldn't be any better for me," said Davenport, who at one point thought her tennis career would completely make way for motherhood. "Having said that, I was willing to go anywhere if the USTA chose me, and they knew that. But obviously it's great. I've been able to have everybody here close to me all week and I'm going to have my whole family watching. These are the conditions that I was born and bred with, so hopefully it favors me and I can take advantage of that."

Plus, she's 31-2 overall in Fed Cup play. She made her Fed Cup debut in 1993 and has led the United States to five finals and three titles. Raymond, 34, is the world's No. 3 doubles player and has a 13-9 overall Fed Cup record.

The Germans have an average age of about 20.

Asked what she knows about her first-round opponent, Davenport said: "About the same as I know about the second-round opponent, which isn't a lot."

"Gosh, it's so hard when you don't know the girls you're playing," said Davenport, who won three Grand Slam singles titles and reached No. 1 in the rankings. "I mean, I know the names. We're really hopeful to get the two points on Saturday. We feel like that would put the tie out of reach because we feel confident we can win one of the three on Sunday. But we have Ashley, who's never played before, so she'll have some nerves, and it's a different atmosphere playing Fed Cup. My goal is get her up one-love so she can play with a little less pressure."

Davenport made a commitment to staying on the U.S. squad for the semifinals and final, should the team make it that far. The United States hasn't won the competition since 2000.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press