Davenport finishes off Fed Cup win over Spain

Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2000

LAS VEGAS -- It turns out the U.S. Fed Cup team didn't need Venus and Serena Williams after all.

Jennifer Capriati and Lisa Raymond could have stayed home, too. This championship defense was strictly a two-woman show.

With Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles dominating the singles, the United States finished off Spain on Saturday to claim yet another title in the female version of the Davis Cup.

Davenport and Seles went undefeated in both the semifinals against Belgium earlier in the week and in the finals against Spain as the United States won the Fed Cup for the 17th time in its 38 years of existence.

Together, they combined for all the points the U.S. team needed to defend the title it won against Russia last year.

''It's very nice to win, especially without the Williamses,'' Davenport said. ''It definitely made it a little bit harder without them here.''

It certainly didn't look harder as Davenport clinched the win for the United States in the first singles match of the day, beating Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-2 to give the U.S. team an insurmountable 3-0 lead.

The United States, which beat Belgium behind Davenport and Seles in the semifinals earlier in the week, had entered the day with a 2-0 lead, thanks to singles wins Friday by Davenport and Seles.

Even a calf injury that bothered Davenport all week and flared up in the second set didn't stop the world's No. 2 player from finishing up a perfect 3-0 mark of her own in singles play for the week.

''I went a little wide for a forehand and felt it pull,'' Davenport said. ''It was bothering me but I was fortunate enough to be able to go for winners.''

Davenport's win made the lone remaining singles match meaningless, and captain Billie Jean King replaced Seles with Capriati against Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Capriati won 6-1, 1-0 when Sanchez-Vicario quit because of stomach trouble.

Jennifer Capriati and Lisa Raymond made it a 5-0 shutout in the final match when they beat the Spanish doubles team of Magui Serna and Virginia Ruano Pascual 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Davenport took an injury timeout after the first game of the second set to have her leg wrapped, grimacing as the wrapping was applied, and limped noticeably at times when she returned to the court.

''It was bothering me, but I was fortunate enough to go for winners,'' Davenport said. ''She really wasn't doing anything with the ball, so it was a lot easier to go for it.''

Martinez had problems of her own, with an injured right elbow hampering her serve. Her loss made the remaining singles and doubles matches meaningless.

''It wasn't hurting that much, but I had it in my mind so I couldn't even throw the ball up,'' Martinez said. ''Don't make it a big deal. I was OK.''

Martinez and Sanchez-Vicario had combined to help Spain win five of the last nine Fed Cup titles, but at home on the faster indoor service, the Americans were superior.

Davenport won all three of her matches this week, beating Belgium's Kim Clijsters in the semifinals and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the finals before closing out Martinez.

The win was revenge of sorts for the United States, which lost a Fed Cup semifinal two years ago to Spain, which went on to win the championship. Davenport wasn't on that team, which was played on clay in Madrid, but Seles was.

''We would now like to beat them on clay, which would be a tougher task,'' she said.

Against Martinez, Davenport won the first four games, dominating with her first serve and scoring with deep crosscourt shots.

''Even when she was hurt I couldn't return her serve,'' Martinez said. ''She hit winners all the time.''

With captain Billie Jean King shouting encouragement, Davenport played on despite pain. She hugged her teammates as the crowd of about 5,000 cheered on the indoor court at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.

The celebration was much more muted, though, than last year when the United States beat Russia for the title with King's ''Dream Team'' of Davenport, Seles and the Williams sisters.

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