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The 28-year-old oft-injured Californian, who became a wife in April of last year, is fresh off her eye-catching back-to-back titles in Stanford and Los Angeles, beating Venus Williams in an epic and Serena Williams in a laugher, respectively, in a pair of blockbuster finals. As a matter of fact, Davenport bested both Venus (in the semis) and a top-seeded Serena to capture last week's JPMorgan Chase Open (her hometown tournament) for a fourth time and collect $93,000.
Davenport has now won three straight matches (combined) against the Williamses, after going 12-21 in her previous 33 bouts against the mighty sisters. She's now 12-12 lifetime against Venus and a dismal 3-9 all-time versus Serena, who she finally beat last week for the first time since the 2000 U.S. Open quarterfinals. Davenport had dropped five straight matches against Serena, including outings at the 2001 and 2002 U.S. Opens.
The red-hot Davenport has pushed her career title total to 42, which currently ranks her second among active players (Monica Seles, 53) and 10th on the all- time women's list. She recorded her 600th match victory at the French Open earlier this year.
Davenport has already piled up four titles this season -- her best one in three years. The 12-year pro is a sizzling 42-6 in 2004, including a trip to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon and fourth-round showing at Roland Garros, her worst Grand Slam event.
The former world No. 1 is a three-time Grand Slam winner, but hasn't secured a major championship since the 2000 Aussie Open, which also marked her last Slam final. Is she due?
Maybe that could change at the upcoming U.S. Open, where things should be wide open, with the health issues surrounding defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, the absence of an injured Kim Clijsters and her recent successes against the powerful Williams siblings. Unfortunately for Davenport, French Open titlist Anastasia Myskina and Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova will be among those on hand in Flushing, as it was the 17-year-old Sharapova who stunned Davenport in the semis en route to an unlikely title run at the All England Club just four weeks ago.
Davenport has talked about leaving the tour in order to start a family with her investment banker husband Jon Leach -- a former tennis player at Southern Cal -- but her recent results might make her reconsider. She's now up to No. 4 in the world and currently leads the all-new U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge, with 100 points. Points are awarded at 10 tournaments leading up to the year's final Grand Slam event, with the top-three players receiving bonus money.
"The last 10 months I've been building a little bit stronger base physically," said Davenport, who was plagued by a foot injury for the majority of 2003 before undergoing off-season surgery.
The slugging star has been dictating play with hard, heavy, deep balls and will certainly be one of the favorites (if not the favorite) at the 2004 U.S. Open, which will get underway August 30 at the USTA National Tennis Center. Davenport captured America's Open in 1998 and has reached at least the semifinals there in six of the last seven years.
The winner of nine straight and 14 of her last 15 matches, the 6-foot-2 Davenport is part of this week's quality field in San Diego, where she titled back in '98.
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