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Davenport Stays, but Rubin Strays

Former champion easily wins her first-round match at U.S. Open, but her fellow American is upset.

August 26, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — They came to the U.S. Open and landed in the same quarter of the draw with excellent opportunities to reach the semifinals, yet both cursed with nagging injuries.

That's where the similarities between former Open champion and third-seeded Lindsay Davenport and Chanda Rubin came screeching to a halt Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium during the first day of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

The eighth-seeded Rubin played one of her worst matches at the Open in years. Maria Vento-Kabchi of Venezuela, ranked 84th, defeated Rubin, 6-4, 6-4, in 72 minutes in the first round. Rubin committed 46 unforced errors, going out against a 29-year-old who isn't even pictured in the WTA Tour media guide.

In between Rubin's and Davenport's matches on the main show court was a straightforward appearance by Mardy Fish, who defeated Swedish qualifier Joachim Johansson, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Davenport followed Fish and had little trouble with Els Callens of Belgium, winning, 6-1, 6-0, in 46 minutes.

It had been a nervous 48 hours or so for Davenport, who'd had to retire in the second set of the final at New Haven, Conn., on Saturday against Jennifer Capriati because of a chronic nerve injury in her left foot. Davenport received a shot in the foot Saturday night and stayed away from the court and off her feet Sunday.

"I was really relieved when the match was over and extremely nervous beforehand, just trying to figure out how my foot was going to be and if it would be OK," Davenport said.

Davenport was so eager to play, though, that she endured her third shot in the injured foot in the last eight weeks.

"That's it," she said. "They didn't want to give me the third. I had to beg them."

She will require surgery after the Open and the operation figures to prevent her from playing the WTA's season-ending championships at Staples Center. Davenport said she was planning to compete in 2004.

Davenport and Rubin had been on track to meet in the quarterfinals, if form held. But Rubin, who came within five points of upsetting Venus Williams here last year in the fourth round, never quite appeared comfortable against Vento-Kabchi, especially on the forehand side.

"It's been quite awhile," she said. "I can't remember playing quite this bad. Being the U.S. Open, Center Court, it's worse than playing this bad somewhere else, another smaller event. But this was definitely one of the worst."

Rubin had been short of match play because of an injured right shoulder, which forced her to withdraw from two recent tournaments.

"It's really a disappointing loss," she said. "I mean, it will definitely linger for a little while. The tournament is two weeks long. This is the first day. It's kind of a bitter pill to be out, you know, basically the first match.

*

There was one upset of significance on the men's side in the first round. Ramon Delgado of Paraguay defeated No. 9 Sebastien Grosjean of France, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4, in 4 hours 13 minutes, saving two match points in the fourth set.

Grosjean, who has been hampered by a sore right elbow since the Masters Series event at Cincinnati, double-faulted on the second match point.

Although 18-year-old Robert Yim of Glendale lost in the first round to veteran Todd Martin, he will take home $12,500 because he decided not to go to UCLA, turning professional before the Open. Martin beat Yim, 6-1, 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Yim said afterward that he had been thinking about going to school for a year, then turning pro, but decided to accelerate the process after winning the prestigious junior event at Kalamazoo, Mich.

"Because that's my dream," Yim said of playing professionally.

*

There was a scary scene Monday night when Alex Bogomolov Jr. had to retire because of severe cramping in the fifth set of his match against French Open finalist Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands. He had to be carried off on a stretcher and Verkerk, who saved two match points, advanced, winning, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 1-0, in 3 hours 41 minutes.

*

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