Davenport loses just three games, advances to fourth round
Updated: Thursday January 18, 2001 10:24 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Defending champion Lindsay Davenport, who struggled through the first two rounds of the Australian Open, had an easier time Friday in beating Silvia Farina Elia 6-2, 6-1.
On the warmest day of the tournament, with the temperature expected to reach 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), Davenport dominated the first center court match. She raced to a 4-0 lead in each set and closed out the victory in 63 minutes.
"I'm a lot happier with the way I played," Davenport said. "You can tell when you're hitting the ball cleanly and well, even when you might not win every point. I was hitting with more power and depth and all that good stuff I've been lacking the last couple of matches."
In men's play, No. 2-seeded Marat Safin had his easiest match so far, beating Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. Todd Martin upset No. 13 Cedric Pioline 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Pioline was the fourth seeded man to be sidelined.
The No. 2-seeded Davenport's opponent in the fourth round will be No. 15 Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who won the first 11 games and beat qualifier Nuria Llagostera 6-0, 6-1. When Llagostera finally got on the board by holding serve in the next-to-last game, the Spaniard pumped her fist and grinned.
Davenport is 2-0 against the 17-year-old Clijsters, with both matches three-setters last year.
"It's a tough match," Davenport said. "It's funny - for so many years I was the youngest player. Now I'm one of the oldest. The young girls are very fiery and have a hard-hitting game, and they go for their shots.
"The two times I played Kim, they were tough three-set matches. I don't expect anything different this time."
Davenport, pushed to three sets in wins over Jelena Dokic and Greta Arn, had less trouble with Farina Elia. Davenport struggled with her serve but feasted on the Italian's second serve and moved better than in her previous match.
One long rally had Davenport scrambling from sideline to sideline, but she managed to chase down a backhand and yank it crosscourt for a winner.
Her groundstrokes were again a bit erratic, however, and she needed five match points in the final game to close out the victory.
Thirteen seeded women made it through two rounds. Top-seeded Martina Hingis, who has lost three games so far, beat Els Callens 6-1, 6-0 Thursday. No. 3 Venus Williams defeated Meghann Shaughnessy 6-3, 7-6 (3). No. 6 Serena Williams eliminated Nadejda Petrova 6-3, 6-2.
Top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten lost to Greg Rusedski 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 in the final match Thursday.
In the men's draw, No. 3 Pete Sampras was due on court later Friday against Juan Ignacio Chela and defending titlist Andre Agassi follows on center court against David Prinosil of Germany.