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It's Serena, Davenport and a Lot of Russians

August 07, 2006|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

The JPMorgan Chase Open tennis tournament has something no other California event has had this summer: a Williams sister.

Serena Williams, who has played only one tournament in almost six months, is still in the draw for the tournament that begins today at the Home Depot Center. Also returning from a long injury layoff is Lindsay Davenport, who has been sidelined for five months because of a back injury.

Williams, who played two weeks ago in Cincinnati, has been nursing a knee injury that kept her out of the French Open and Wimbledon this year.

Four of the top five seeded players are Russian, starting with No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who won the Acura Classic at La Costa on Sunday by beating Kim Clijsters, 7-5, 7-5. Seeded second is Nadia Petrova, who complained of a sore knee last week at La Costa; Elena Dementieva is third, and Dinara Safina is seeded fifth. Only No. 4-seeded Davenport interrupts the Russians at the top of the draw.

Venus Williams also was entered in the tournament but pulled out over the weekend, citing a sore wrist.

Serena Williams has drawn yet another Russian, Maria Kirilenko, for her first-round match. Kirilenko, 19, is ranked No. 21 in the world. The two have played each other only once, in the second round of the 2004 French Open, a match Williams won in three sets.

Davenport, who hasn't played since losing a three-set, third-round match to Martina Hingis in March at Indian Wells, has a first-round bye.

Tonight's schedule includes a first-round match between Amy Frazier and Jill Craybas and an exhibition between Pete Sampras and Jim Courier.

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