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'It's been a great summer'

8/26/2004

When the 2004 tennis year began there were a handful of candidates for a defining winning streak in women's tennis. One of them was not Lindsay Davenport.

Davenport, fast approaching 28, was coming off surgery on her left foot and this followed a serious knee surgery the year before. She had gotten married in 2003 and was already talking about the pleasing prospect of becoming a mother. After she lost in the semifinals at Wimbledon, Davenport talked openly of retiring.

Which is why the past few months have been so absolutely, positively crazy. Since that loss to Maria Sharapova, Davenport has won the last four tournaments she's entered and a total of 17 consecutive matches. The most recent was Sunday's Western and Southern Women's Open, a nifty 6-3, 6-2 piece of work against Vera Zvonereva.

"Unfortunately, I know it has to end at some time," Davenport said in Mason, Ohio. "Hopefully, it won't be until October."

Davenport's six titles -- in order, Tokyo, Amelia Island, Stanford, Los Angeles, San Diego and Cincinnati -- represent the best total on the WTA Tour. Justine Henin-Hardenne, coming off her triumph in Athens, is next with five.

Clearly, Davenport has the big game that can win on the speedy courts in Flushing, N.Y. It happened in 1998, and she has been close -- with a finals appearance, three semifinals and a quarterfinal -- in the intervening five years. Based on empirical evidence, as well as nostalgic sentiment, she is the favorite coming in.

"It's been a great summer," Davenport said. "It's beyond expectations that this could happen at this point in my career. I'm really excited and energized."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.