Injury closes Open door for Davenport

 

TENNIS: The world number one Lindsay Davenport of the US has withdrawn from next week's Australian Open in Melbourne. Top seed Davenport, Australian Open champion in 2000, pulled out because of a knee injury which has been troubling her since last November.

Davenport (25), damaged cartilage in her right knee during the WTA Championships in Munich. She pulled out of this week's Sydney International before announcing her withdrawal from the first grand slam of the year.

Last year's Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati will be promoted to top seed for the tournament, with Venus Williams seeded second and Martina Hingis third.

Hingis returned from her longest break in seven years on the circuit to beat American doubles specialist Lisa Raymond 6-1, 6-1 in the second round of the Sydney International yesterday.

Playing her first competitive match since undergoing ankle surgery in October, the Swiss player claimed victory in 46 minutes.

Hingis (21), who won the Sydney tournament in 1997 and again last year, said afterwards: "It's always nice to come back to a place where you have had success in the past. It gives you a little extra kick."

Hingis was joined in the quarter-finals by 1999 US Open champion Serena Williams and 2000 Sydney winner Amelie Mauresmo.

Mauresmo beat South Africa's Amanda Coetzer 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, while Williams overcame a lapse in concentration to defeat Anna Kournikova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

"I think my mind and my feet and my head were not into it," Williams said afterwards. "But I don't feel negative, I don't have negative thoughts, I don't even know what the word negative means."

Belgium's Wimbledon finalist Justine Henin also had to overcome a jittery start to defeat Barbara Schett 7-6, 6-3 in their first round encounter.

Henin, beaten by Venus Williams in last weekend's Australian women's hardcourt final in their first rematch since Wimbledon, committed 38 unforced errors and struggled to find her range on serve before eventually sealing victory after 82 minutes.

In the men's tournament, Thai number one Paradorn Srichaphan upset French top seed Sebastien Grosjean.

Srichaphan (22), only off the plane the previous day after losing to Argentina's Guillermo Canas in the Madras final in India on Sunday, beat the out-of-sorts world number five 6-3, 6-4 in 66 minutes. His reward is a second-round meeting with Max Mirnyi of Belarus.

Srichaphan, serving at 59 per cent, fired 21 winners to Grosjean's 14 and conceded just 18 unforced errors to the Frenchman's 31.

Grosjean, who lost both his singles matches to Pat Rafter and world number one Lleyton Hewitt in last month's Davis Cup final in Melbourne, failed to convert any of his four break-point opportunities.

While Grosjean was floundering, French Davis Cup hero Nicolas Escude strolled past Spaniard Alberto Martin 6-1, 6-4.

Escude, who wrapped up the Davis Cup final with victory over Wayne Arthurs in the fifth rubber and also defeated Hewitt, broke the Spaniard four times.

His compatriot Julien Boutter ousted Swedish sixth seed Thomas Johansson 7-6, (7-4), 7-5. Rainer Schuttler won the all-German match with Nicolas Kiefer 6-2, 6-2.

Swiss second seed Roger Federer overcame Spain's Tommy Robredo 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), while Morocco's Hicham Arazi, suffering from a blistered left hand, was forced to retire from his match against Belgium's Xavier Malisse after losing the first set 6-3.