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Round 1 goes to Davenport

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Annoyed at her racket, Lindsay Davenport flipped it aside, slumped into her changeover chair, shook her head and muttered to herself.

Davenport's body language was bad Wednesday, but her serve was good, and that saved her in the second round of the Australian Open. The defending champion withstood an upset bid from qualifier Greta Arn to win 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

Seeded No. 2, Davenport said she felt fine physically, other than being a little tired. But she played with none of the flair she showed in winning last year's title.

''I was getting sooooo frustrated and fed up with the way I was playing, and you can't do that,'' she said. ''For whatever reason, I didn't play as well as I can. Hopefully I'll get better. I don't know.''

On the tournament's third consecutive mild, sunny day, No. 4-seeded Monica Seles beat Miroslava Vavrinec 6-2, 6-3. Seles' opponent in the fourth round could be 18-year-old Belgian Justine Henin, who improved to 12-0 this year by beating Sarah Pitkowski 6-3, 6-2.

Henin's winning streak has boosted her ranking from 48th to a career-high 22nd. Her next opponent will be No. 14 Sandrine Testud, who was leading 6-4, 5-2 when Jing-Qian Yi retired because of a back injury.

No. 12 Jennifer Capriati, a semifinalist last year, beat Miriam Oremans 6-0, 6-2.

No. 9 Juan Carlos Ferrero became the first seeded man to be eliminated when he lost to Australian Andre Ilie 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.

Second-seeded Marat Safin, the U.S. Open champion, rallied to beat Andrei Pavel 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Eighth-seeded Tim Henman beat Nicolas Lapentti 6-1, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7). No. 14 Dominik Hrbaty swept Francisco Clavet 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Davenport, who edged Jelena Dokic in a tense three-setter in the opening round, squeaked though again thanks to her serve. She lost only 10 points on her first serve, faced just one break point -- on the final point of the second set -- and closed out the win with her ninth ace.

But she sheepishly admitted she gave off bad vibes.

''I was just getting a little crabby out there,'' Davenport said. ''I've allowed these girls to play well, and last year here I wasn't allowing that to happen. I'm a little bit away from my 'A' game right now.''

Arn, a German ranked 146th, fared well swapping groundstrokes with Davenport and could tell her opponent was out of sorts.

''Lindsay threw her racket two times,'' Arn noted. ''It was kind of frustrating for her. ... I had nothing to lose. It was a lot of fun to play her, especially in such a big arena.''

Davenport began to move better in the final set, slamming shots into both corners to pull away. She has a favorable draw, with her top rivals -- No. 1 Martina Hingis, No. 3 Venus Williams and No. 6 Serena Williams -- in the other half. They play second-round matches Thursday.

A dangerous floater in Davenport's half is Henin. The teen-ager won titles in Australia earlier this month at the Gold Coast and at Canberra, beating three seeded players in the latter event.

''When I arrived in Australia I was confident,'' said Henin, who reached the fourth round at last year's U.S. Open. ''I'm not afraid to lose now. I'm not so nervous, and I can do my best on the court.''

Henin comes to the net well for such a young player and also has the powerful groundstrokes characteristic of her generation.

''Right now she's full of confidence and all the luck is running her way,'' Pitkowski said. ''She's very solid, bangs it hard from both sides and has a backhand like the guys.''

But the young Belgian's heavy early-season schedule could soon take a toll. She played only 31 matches all of last year and is already almost halfway to that total.

''I'm confident, but I'm also a little bit tired,'' Henin said. ''I want to win all my matches, but it's difficult. Sometimes I lose a little concentration because mentally I'm a little tired.''



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