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Davenport drops out, Williams triumphant

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2001

MUNICH, Germany -- Lindsay Davenport's joy at ending the year at No. 1 was short-lived.

A day after clinching the top ranking, she pulled out of the Sanex Championships final with a bruised right knee, giving the title to Serena Williams.

''I can't tell you how bad I feel for everyone involved, but I can't put any weight on it (the leg),'' Davenport said. ''This is a huge disappointment for me.''

Davenport tried to practice Sunday, hours before the final, but stopped because of the pain. Her withdrawal ended a 15-match winning streak in which she won titles in three straight weeks.

In capturing the $3 million tournament -- the WTA's year-ending event and the biggest behind the Grand Slams -- Willaims gained her third title of the year and 10th of her career.

Davenport missed 2 1/2 months this season with a bruised knee. She bruised the same knee again during a three-set semifinal victory Saturday against Kim Clijsters.

That allowed her to pass Jennifer Capriati in the race for No. 1. Williams will end the year at No. 7.

Williams learned of Davenport's withdrawal less than two hours before the match.

''It definitely feels strange,'' she said. ''I've never been in this situation before. I know if it happened to me, I would feel bad.''

Tour officials said it was the 10th time in 31 years a tournament final had not been played.

Williams earned $750,000, getting half of it without swinging a racket. Davenport, as runner-up, won $375,000.

''Wouldn't you take it?'' Williams said. ''I definitely earned it. I worked for it years and years ago.''

Williams completed an up-and-down year, passing $2 million in earnings but failing to win a Grand Slam. Her only final was against sister Venus in the U.S. Open.

Next year she aims to be No. 1 and plans to play more tournaments.

''You guys are going to get tired of looking at me because I've going to be everywhere,'' Williams said.

Davenport was also No. 1 in 1998. She secured the top ranking this time with a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) win against Clijsters. The Belgian teen-ager has soared in the rankings to No. 5.

This was the closest year-end race for No. 1 in more than a decade. Davenport closes 2001 with 4,902 ranking points, 11 ahead of Capriati.

Davenport's injury raises the possibility she will not be able to practice again until the Gold Coast in January, meaning she won't be able to prepare for the start of the women's tour during the offseason.

She first bruised the knee in March in Miami, then returned just before Wimbledon in late June.

''I can just hope for the best. It's much more painful than it was in that match,'' Davenport said.

''At least I could finish a set then.''

Davenport felt two bones knock together in her knee at 5-2 in the tiebreaker against Clijsters during a match in which control of the last set switched hands several times.

She was chasing a drop shot from Clijsters when she felt the pain but won the point.

''Right there, I knew I did something that hurt my knee,'' she said. ''I kept playing because I had match point.''

If Davenport had lost the match, Capriati would have retained her No. 1 ranking. Capriati was eliminated in a three-set loss to Sandrine Testud.



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