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Davenport storms to win

January 14, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia -- It wasn't nearly on the same level as John McEnroe's famous "You cannot be serious" tirade at Wimbledon.

It was, however, unusual by Lindsay Davenport standards.

With her first-round match at the Australian Open teetering in the balance, Davenport aimed a rare verbal blast at chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph in the 10th game of the third set -- asking him "Are you crazy?" -- and proceeded to hang on to defeat lightly regarded Sara Errani of Italy, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, in 2 hours 19 minutes here on Monday. The victory made her the all-time money winner in women's tennis, passing Steffi Graf. Davenport has won almost $22 million in her career.

With Errani trailing, 5-4, and serving, Davenport smacked a forehand crosscourt return winner on the first point of the game. But it wasn't that simple. Davenport proceeded to have a . . . well, animated conversation with Joseph after he called it 15-0 in Errani's favor.

"What? You're telling me from there, you think that ball was out?" she said. " . . . You are now over-ruling the far [side] line at 5-4 in the final set?

" . . . Are you crazy? What would you do if you were me?"

Video replay was not an option. Organizers, perhaps in a clever bow to a famous Australian tennis mother, put the 31-year-old Davenport of Irvine, who is playing in her first Grand Slam event since giving birth to son Jagger in June, on the third show court, Margaret Court Arena.

Unfortunately for Davenport, there is no Hawkeye line-calling system on that particular court. She squandered two match points in that game and later won it on the third, two games later, when Errani netted a forehand.

Later, in the hallway outside the locker room, Davenport wasn't entirely sure what transpired. "He [Joseph] never said, 'Correction, the ball was out, " she said, thinking he might have called the score wrong. "That's my theory."

Someone teased her about the verbal blast and she laughed and explained the additional cause of her anger.

"Earlier, in the first set, he said, 'I can't overrule the far line,' and then he did me wrong in the third," said Davenport, who was rusty with 48 unforced errors in her first Slam since the U.S. Open in 2006.

Davenport, who has won three tournaments since returning to the tour in September, will have to raise her game for a possible second-round match against last year's finalist and No. 5 Maria Sharapova, who played Jelena Kostanic Tosic later in the day.

Two other favorites had little trouble: Top-seeded Justine Henin of Belgium defeated Aiko Nakamura of Japan, 6-2, 6-2, and No. 7 and defending champion Serena Williams beat wild-card Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia, 6-3, 6-3.

The highest-seeded men's player in early action, No. 6 Andy Roddick had little trouble, winning, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6, against qualifier Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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