Davenport wins in straight sets to advance

Updated: September 3, 2005, 10:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Second seed Lindsay Davenport overcame a slow start to beat Spain's Anabel Medina-Garrigues 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Saturday.

The former champion dropped her serve in the opening game against the 32nd seed but broke back immediately. She broke again in the eighth game and then ripped through the second set to win in one hour, nine minutes.

Davenport, the runner-up at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, began loosely, spraying groundstrokes long as Medina-Garrigues forced break points in the seventh game.

But once the American held for 4-3, she grew in confidence and clinched victory to set up a clash with Nathalie Dechy, the 15th seed from France.

Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva committed 19 double faults but still beat fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday.

Former U.S. Open champ Justine Henin-Hardenne also struggled, needing a second-set tiebreak to overcome South Korea's Yoon Jeong Cho 6-0, 7-6 (4).

Other seeded women advancing included No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 11 Patty Schnyder, No. 12 Mary Pierce, No. 15 Nathalie Dechy and No. 19 Elena Likhovtseva, who beat 2004 French Open champion and No. 13 Anastasia Myskina.

Despite winning, Dementieva apologized for her play.

"It was very difficult to play with this kind of serve," said Dementieva, last year's runner-up to fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. "I have no excuse for serving like that."

Dementieva had one ace, as did her opponent, and each had 14 winners in the 2-hour, 11-minute match. But Chakvetadze had 58 unforced errors to 49 for the winner.

Even with eight double faults, Dementieva sailed through the opening set against Chakvetadze, who was seeded No. 29. But 30 minutes into the match, things changed dramatically as the 18-year-old Chakvetadze began stretching the points and the games in the battle from the baselines.

Dementieva fell behind in the third-set tiebreak 4-2 before sealing a spot in the fourth round, where she will take on No. 11 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland. Schnyder advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 24 Shinobu Asagoe of Japan.

As the match neared its conclusion, Chakvetadze appeared to be near tears. Dementieva was not surprised.

"It was a pretty close match and it was very emotional for both of us," Dementieva said. "I think she's just a little bit younger than me. Maybe she doesn't have so much experience as I do."

The 23-year-old Dementieva reached two Grand Slam tournament finals a year ago -- at the French Open and on the hard courts at the National Tennis Center. She was also a semifinalist at the 2000 U.S. Open.

Chakvetadze was playing in only her second U.S. Open, having qualified for the year's final major a year ago. She has zoomed up the rankings this year by posting a 32-17 record before journeying to Flushing Meadow.

"I think she's a very good player," Dementieva said of her opponent, "and maybe she needs a little bit more experience."

Dementieva knows her serve is a liability for her finally winning a major.

"I feel my serve can be much, much better," she said. "It's just kind of a mental thing. Maybe I have to take more time between points. It feels like sometimes I'm rushing too much on my serve, don't feel as confident as my return.

"At the same time, you know, I know that I can have a good serve one day," she said.

In another all-Russian matchup Saturday, Likhovtseva defeated Myskina 0-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6). If they keep winning, Dementieva and Likhovtseva could meet in the semifinals.

Dementieva, who lost to Myskina in the 2004 French Open final and to Kuznetsova in the title match here a year ago, played down that type of rivalry.

"When there are just two or three Russian players on the tour, it's kind of nervous to meet each other," she said. "But when there are more than 10 in the main draw and you have to face them like every single round every single tournament, it doesn't feel so exciting. It's just another player that you have to meet on the court."

Henin-Hardenne, the French Open champ, struggled for the second straight match, and it gets tougher from here. Henin-Hardenne will play either 12th-seeded Mary Pierce in a rematch of the French final or No. 17 Jelena Jankovic.

"I think for me it's much harder to play my first rounds where I have a lot of pressure, where I have to win," Henin-Hardenne said. "I'm more comfortable when I know I'm going to play a seeded player. It's going to be a good test for me."

Henin-Hardenne is one of those players who likes to play a lot of matches, especially before big tournaments. But she's had little chance to do that, missing the early part of the year with a broken bone in her knee and sitting out much of the summer with a pulled hamstring.

She played only two tournaments after the French, losing in the first round at Wimbledon and reaching the finals in Toronto.

"Right now, I won a couple of matches, and that gives confidence," she said.

The Belgian rolled through the first set, dominating Cho with powerful ground strokes and a couple of nice plays at the net. She never allowed Cho a chance until the final game, when she double-faulted to give her double break point.

Henin-Hardenne got the game to deuce and then fought off two more break chances before closing out the set. The second set seemed more of the same, with Henin-Hardenne racing to a 3-0 lead.

But just as she did in her second-round match, Henin-Hardenne lost focus. She had back-to-back double faults to give Cho a break and her first game of the match, and the momentum suddenly shifted.

"She was quite faster than my first two opponents, and I had a hard time finding my rhythm," Cho said, speaking through an interpreter. "But in the second set, I got a little used to Justine's game, so I started playing aggressive."

The more Cho went on the attack, the tighter Henin-Hardenne got. Even her occasional mutters of "Allez!" didn't help.

"It's going to be like that, I think, for my whole career," said Henin-Hardenne, a touch of resignation in her voice. "It's the way I am and the way I act. It's going to be very hard for me to change that in the future. My sensitivity helps me to do a lot of great things, to achieve great goals, but sometimes it gives me a little bit of trouble."

At least Henin-Hardenne knows where she's struggling. She made 21 errors in the second set, three times what she had in the first. But her biggest problem, as it's been the whole tournament, was her second serve. She won 69 percent of her first-serve points but only 35 percent on her second serve.

She had eight double faults, five alone in the second set.

"I don't have especially one reason, but I'm sure I'll get better," Henin-Hardenne said. "I'm happy with my percentage of first serve. I think I will have to keep working on it and ... I need some confidence. When I get this confidence, I'm sure my serve is going to get better."

Cho, who took Monica Seles to three sets in the third round of the 2002 Open, broke Henin-Hardenne to tie the second set at 4-4 and then forced the tiebreak. But Henin-Hardenne won four of the last five points to close out the match.

"It was very difficult to keep the intensity as high as it was [early on]," Henin-Hardenne said. "I could win this match probably earlier. But finally, when I had to be aggressive at the end of the set, I did."

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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