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INDIAN WELLS NOTES

Davenport Happy to Be Healthy

March 11, 2004|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

So what if Lindsay Davenport can't feel a thing in her toes.

She feels terrific on the court, and nearly five months after surgery to correct a foot problem that plagued her last year, she says she has put off thoughts of retirement.

"I really feel good this year. I'm excited, and at this point, I have no plans to stop," said Davenport, the third-seeded player in the women's singles draw at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

"I feel great now, and looking back, I wish now that I'd sacrificed last year and taken care of it sooner," she said.

Davenport, No. 4 in WTA entry-system rankings, struggled last season to deal with a recurring nerve condition in her left foot.

She finished the year ranked fifth, but after winning only one singles title -- in Tokyo -- and failing to advance to any Grand Slam finals last season, Davenport had surgery in October in which doctors severed the nerve between her third and fourth toes.

She has permanently lost all feeling in the toes as a result of the operation but is happy to finally be rid of the pain.

With the problem resolved, Davenport doesn't expect to have to favor her foot anymore, although she will play a lighter schedule regardless.

She plans to play in 14 or 15 tournaments rather than the 20-25 that is typical of most players.

"I really don't want to be average, somebody who plays and does pretty well, but is ranked sixth through 10 or 12 through 20. I like to feel I have a chance to win every match I play, and even though I did OK, I really didn't feel like that last year," Davenport said. "I decided that I'm just going to play the tournaments that I really want to play and that I know I enjoy, and just be home a little bit more."

*

There were mixed results for several players with Southern California ties in Wednesday's first round of the men's qualifying competition.

Zack Fleishman, a Playa del Rey resident who played one season at UCLA in 1998-99, rallied to defeat Tomas Zib of the Czech Republic, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. Fleishman faces Simon Larose of Canada in the second round today.

Prakash Amritraj, who led USC to the 2002 NCAA championship, failed to retain leads in both sets and lost, 6-4, 6-4, to Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

Another former USC player, 1996 NCAA singles champion Cecil Mamiit, also lost, 6-1, 6-4, to Ricardo Mello of Brazil.

Giorgio Galimberti of Italy won, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, over wild-card entrant Alex Reichel, a Los Angeles resident who, at 33, was the oldest player in the qualifying round.

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