Davenport set to defend Advanta title

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The Independent Online

Lindsay Davenport's year might be getting better.

Lindsay Davenport's year might be getting better.

Fresh off winning her 29th career singles title with a hard-fought victory over Venus Williams two weeks ago, Davenport returns to the Philadelphia area Monday to defend her Advanta Championships title.

"It has been definitely the roughest year of my whole career and something I can look back on and be proud of," said Davenport, who has been plagued by back and shoulder pain and a foot injury that caused her to withdraw from the Olympics.

"It is hard to always like harp on the injuries and make the excuses, but it has just been the most trying year with a number of injuries and a number of setbacks. But I have proven to myself that I can come back from them all and still compete at an extremely high level."

After going through the summer without a tournament title, Davenport avenged losses to Williams in the Wimbledon and U.S Open finals by snapping Williams' 35-match winning streak in Linz, Austria.

"I hadn't actually won a tournament since March, so that was kind of wearing on my mind and definitely caused me to get a bit annoyed," Davenport said. "I didn't feel like, oh, I have lost so many times, I have got to win this one, but I just knew that I had to play well, and I thought it was an advantage for me. It was indoors, and I'm just glad I could come away with a tournament victory."

Davenport enters the Advanta as the world's No. 2 player and the second seed behind Martina Hingis. She beat Hingis 6-3, 6-4 to capture the Advanta title last year after losing in the final the previous two years.

"Philadelphia has been one of my favorite stops the last few years," Davenport said. "I think getting to the finals there maybe three or four years and finally winning it last year and ever since it moved to Villanova, it was much more exciting to play and I have just enjoyed it a lot playing there."

The 28-player field includes 10th-ranked Anna Kournikova, who lost in the semifinals of the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig, Germany, on Saturday. Kournikova, a crowd-favorite who was upset in the first round here last year, still is seeking her first Sanex WTA Tour title.

Others in the field include Jennifer Capriati, Lisa Raymond, Conchita Martinez, Nathalie Tauziat, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Monica Seles and Alexandra Stevenson.

"It's a great preparation tournament for me because it's the same surface as the (Chase) Championships and it's not far from New York," Hingis said. "The court at Villanova is very homey when you play in there. There's always a great crowd and they're very into tennis in Philly. I've always liked to play there and I've done very well there in the past."

This will be the final year for the Advanta Championships and the Chase Championships in New York. The WTA Tour has decided to move its season-ending Championships from Madison Square Garden to Munich, Germany, after this year. The Advanta tournament, owned by IMG, is being sold to a promoter in Nice, France.