Tennis: Tauziat pursues jackpot chance

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WITH A SQUEAL of delight pitched even higher than her earlier cries of frustration, Nathalie Tauziat dismissed Lindsay Davenport from the Compaq Grand Slam Cup with an ace, pocketed $200,000 (pounds 124,000) and prepared to meet Venus Williams in the semi- finals.

Tauziat, 30, is 12 years older than Williams and the two other semi-finalists, Martina Hingis and Patty Schnyder, but still a long way from collecting a bus pass. While every dollar counts, the French runner-up at Wimbledon should not have too many pension worries with $3.6m in career prize-money behind her.

The winner of the inaugural eight-strong women's event running alongside the 12-man tournament here will receive $800,000 for three matches. That is $100,000 more than the 22-year-old Davenport was paid for seven matches in winning the United States Open.

Not that the tall Californian seemed overly concerned yesterday after losing only her second match since Wimbledon (Steffi Graf ambushed her in New Haven on the eve of the US Open).

Indeed, Davenport did not concede a set at Flushing Meadow and until yesterday had dropped only six sets since losing to Tauziat in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Davenport, who leaves Munich with $200,000 ($100,000 bonus as a Grand Slam champion plus $100,000 as a first-round loser, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5) has too much in the offing to be bothered by missing out on the jackpot when there are no ranking points at stake.

Next week brings Davenport an opportunity to supplant Hingis as the world No 1. The Swiss prodigy, who has reigned at the top for 79 weeks, has to defend her WTA Tour title in Filderstadt, near Stuttgart. Davenport, the No 2 seed, has no points to defend at the event and is at Hingis's shoulder.

While the visit to the Olympic Hall this week gave Davenport an opportunity to tune her game, she will have to be a lot sharper than yesterday if she is to capitalise in Filderstadt. Tauziat, too, needs to improve if she is to overcome the tall, athletic Williams and be guaranteed $400,000 as a finalist here.

Tauziat contributed 12 double- faults to her total of 37 unforced errors. With Davenport making 34 errors, spectators spent a a large part of the match, which lasted an hour and 57 minutes, wondering which player would self-destruct to greater effect. There were seven service breaks in the final set, five of them consecutively from 3-3.

Williams was also guilty of errors in winning her opening match against the Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 6-2. The French Open champion, while not quite her usual feisty self after arriving directly from a tournament in Tokyo, did enough to make most of the rallies competitive. It was noticeable, however, that Sanchez Vicario paid more visits to the net than is her custom in an effort to shorten the points.

The result gives Williams a 3-2 advantage in head-to-head matches. Interestingly, the American made her professional debut against Sanchez Vicario in Oakland, California, in 1994, the Spaniard winning, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Asked if she had noticed much change in Williams' game, Sanchez Vicario said: "I think she actually is playing pretty similar. She hits the ball pretty hard. If she's on top of the ball, she makes the winners. If you make her run, she makes the errors. She has more experience and has won more matches, so she has more confidence, but she's playing exactly the same as when I played her the first time."

Williams did not argue the point. "I believe that generally I'm the same player, the same person," she said. "From that point, whatever I had in '94 was my base, and I think I've improved from there. Basically I have the same strokes, and, of course, my serve is better - things of that nature."

Mark Philippoussis, the US Open runner-up, advanced to the men's quarter- finals, defeating Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1. The Australian now plays Marcelo Rios, of Chile, who defeated the Spaniard Felix Mantilla, 7-6, 7-5.

Britain's Greg Rusedski advanced to the quarter-finals of the ATP Tour event in Toulouse yesterday, defeating the Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, 6-4, 6-3 and will now play Arnaud Clement, of France.

GRAND SLAM CUP (Munich) Women's sungles, first round: N Tauziat (Fr) bt L Davenport (US) 4-6 6-1 7-5; V Williams (US) beat A Sanchez Vicario (Sp) 6-3 6-2.