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Davenport, Sharapova Win by Book

March 13, 2005|Bill Dwyre | Times Staff Writer

School was in session in the women's portion of the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament at Indian Wells on Saturday, and the teachers were a couple of grizzled veterans.

Of course, in pro tennis, veteran status can be achieved well before gray hair and cataracts. That made it perfectly understandable when Lindsay Davenport, 28, and Maria Sharapova, 17, won textbook early-round matches against two unheralded, but promising, opponents.

Davenport, No. 1 in the world and the winner of three Grand Slam tournaments and nearly $20 million, easily handled 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, 6-3, 6-2, and graciously called her a player with a future.

Sharapova, No. 3, last year's Wimbledon champion and, ironically, three years younger than her opponent, relative newcomer Angela Haynes of Compton, also won easily, 6-1, 6-2, and also gave her credit for a good effort.

For players such as Sharapova, and even more so Davenport, these early tournament matches are usually exercises in patience, perspective and muscled memory.

"It's very important to make sure you are ready for every match," Sharapova said. "In every single match, my opponent doesn't think she has anything to lose. You have to be prepared for it."

Translation: Don't get caught napping.

"When you lose," Sharapova said, "it's big news."

Davenport also had a veteran's perspective when it was speculated that these matches, against players with nothing to lose, might be the hardest she faces.

"You know, I'm going to have to say the finals of Grand Slams are probably a little bit more difficult," she said, laughing.

Karatantcheva is ranked No. 89 and was beaten in 56 minutes, winning 48 points to Davenport's 93. Haynes, No. 105, played 1 hour 8 minutes and got 60 points to Sharapova's 99.

Lessons for both will continue at the next tournament in two weeks at Miami.


Third-seeded Andy Roddick had an unexpectedly difficult test against Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the second round.

Roddick survived two break points in the seventh game of the third, beating Verdasco, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2), in two hours.

In the tiebreaker, Roddick got the early mini-break and went on to go up 4-1 with a 136-mph service winner.

Roddick, who had 16 aces, said the Spaniard probably had the "biggest" forehand he has faced.

"He just absolutely kills it," Roddick said. "I feel like it would be an amazing shot if he could find maybe a happy medium rather than just killing it the whole time. It's a pretty intimidating shot."

In contrast, ninth-seeded Andre Agassi had few problems after a wobbly opening service game. Agassi defeated qualifier Wayne Arthurs of Australia, 6-4, 6-1, breaking his serve four times.

Arthurs' run of consecutive service holds ended at 109 games. He was broken in his second service game, 13 minutes into the match.

Oddly enough, the last time they played, at Wimbledon in 1999, Agassi stopped Arthurs' serving streak of 111 games.


Featured Matches

Today at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden:

STADIUM COURT, starting at 10 a.m.

* Cyril Saulnier (France) vs. Taylor Dent.

* Roger Federer (Switzerland) vs. Mardy Fish.

* Evgenia Linetskaya (Russia) vs. Amelie Mauresmo (France).

* Marat Safin (Russia) vs. Jarkko Nieminen (Finland).

Not before 6:30 p.m.

* Kim Clijsters (Belgium) vs. Anna Chakvetadze (Russia).

* Robby Ginepri vs. Lleyton Hewitt (Australia).


Times staff writer Lisa Dillman contributed to this report.

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