Davenport stays dry -- and in good position
NEW YORK -- Lindsay Davenport really wanted to get off the court as quickly as possible. And who could blame her?
The entire day session at the National Tennis Center was washed away, wreaking havoc on the schedule.
In a bold move, the USTA nervously put all four featured quarterfinals -- two men's and two women's -- on at the same time at 7:30 p.m., knowing that more rain was expected later in the evening. The rain would come.
Davenport, in such a rush to get going, started playing her match a few minutes before 7:30 because the Louis Armstrong court was ready first. She was up 3-0 before anyone else began, and won 6-1, 6-1 in 46 minutes. She was done with her match before Andre Agassi and Roger Federer finished their first set.
"At about 6-1, 5-1, I thought, 'If it rains now, I am going to die.' Then I started to hurry up a bit," she said laughing.
Tim Henman was probably not laughing. He was close to winning his men's match against Dominik Hrbaty with a 6-1, 7-5, 4-5 lead when rain stopped play. Agassi and Federer also could not complete their match, as the rain arrived with Federer leading two sets to one. Both matches will be completed on Thursday -- weather permitting.
Davenport, the hottest player on tour with 22 straight victories, is now in excellent position. She will play Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova -- who did complete her win against Nadia Petrova -- in the semifinals on Friday. Kuznetsova and Petrova were the biggest casualties of the schedule changes -- they played their quarterfinal Wednesday night on Court 11.
"I just really wanted to play today," Davenport said. "I didn't care what time it was. I didn't want to have to come back here tomorrow and possibly go through the same thing. So I was very excited when we walked on the court and it looked like we were going to have some dry time."
Davenport arrived at Flushing Meadow at 9 a.m. in anticipation of her 11 a.m. start time. She warmed up from 10:15 to 10:45 with an anticipated walk-on at 11:15 -- but the rain came at 11:14, she said.
Twice later in the day she was close to getting out on the court again. No dice. Finally, she got on the court just after 7.
And not many people were watching, due to all the bad weather and late scheduling adjustments.
Approximately 250 fans watched Davenport win at Armstrong. The Grandstand crowd was even more sparse for Henman-Hrbaty. Even Agassi-Federer -- the most anticipated match of the tournament so far -- only filled half of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Playing in front of a sparse crowd was nothing new for Davenport. She said that the same thing happened at last year's Open quarterfinal when she beat Paola Suarez in straight sets.
"At this point, I just didn't care if there was 100 people there or 10 people," Davenport said. "I just wanted to play and get through this one."
Everything is breaking right for the 28-year-old Davenport, who has to be considered the favorite in the women's draw the way she is playing. And she will be fresh for the semis on Friday, which could be a huge factor considering her age and her history of knee problems. Jennifer Capriati and Elena Dementieva play in the other semifinal.
"I'm just really happy I got it in," she said. "They said it didn't look great for tomorrow. To get through to the semis and be on schedule is phenomenal."
David Boroff is an editor for ESPN.com.
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