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Davenport battles past Sprem

By Greg Stutchbury
January 18, 2006 12:15 IST
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World number one Lindsay Davenport, seeking her first Grand Slam title in six years, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a hard-fought 7-6, 6-3 victory over Karolina Sprem.

Davenport, who has not added to her three Grand Slam titles since the 2000 victory here at Melbourne Park, was given a solid workout by the 21-year-old Croat.

The match was highlighted by solid service games, with both players often holding to love, and brutal forehand rallies, though Davenport's experience proved the difference for the crucial points.

"It was a really tough match," Davenport told reporters. "I knew she had definitely the ability to play really well and be dangerous, and that was the best that she's played against me.

"I think it was great for me [because] I think that I was able to come through not playing perfect tennis.

"She played really well and didn't give me tons of opportunities. She served well and would take advantage when I didn't hit a good shot."

Both players broke once in the first set, though Davenport had the chance to break again in the ninth, leading 0-30 before Sprem reeled off four successive points to take a 5-4 lead.

They then traded service games to force the first set to a tie-break where Sprem had a 3-1 lead but double faulted and then sent a forehand wide to allow Davenport back into it.

The American upped the pressure on Sprem's serve and smashed a fantastic forehand return wide of her opponent to give her a 5-4 lead she never relinquished.


"I felt within myself. I felt like I was hitting the ball well and I wasn't panicked and I wasn't uptight about anything," Davenport said of the tie-break.

"I didn't want her to get that first set, and was happy from the last few points I hit.

"Anytime someone wins a first set, they obviously can play with a lot more confidence in the second set."

Davenport upped her game and increased the pressure on Sprem's serve in the second set, holding two break points in the fourth game and four in the sixth, which she managed to convert to a 4-2 lead.

They both held serve then Davenport served for the match, which she sealed in 85 minutes, when Sprem's desperate running forehand smashed into the net.

The 29-year-old American will next play Russian Maria Kirilenko, who beat compatriot Galina Voskoboeva 7-6, 6-4 in another second round match.


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Greg Stutchbury
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