Davenport Beats Rezai, Takes Auckland Title

Posted on January 5, 2008

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - She made an incredible return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour last fall, capturing two titles after taking nearly a year off to give birth to her first child; and on Saturday Lindsay Davenport clinched her third title as a mother in her first event of the season, crushing Aravane Rezai in straight sets for the ASB Classic crown in Auckland, New Zealand.

Although she came into the tournament unseeded, Davenport was the class of the draw, owning more titles than the rest of the field combined and being the only former No.1 present. She cruised through all of her matches, her only hiccup coming in the second round against No.5 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, losing the second set before roaring back for a 61 46 60 win.

Davenport saved some of her best for Saturday's final, using her big serve and even bigger groundstrokes to overpower Rezai from all corners. She earned two breaks in each set and never even faced a break point herself, a total domination of the feisty young Frenchwoman from start to finish.

"I came here to win the tournament - mission accomplished," Davenport said. "I played five matches in six days and only lost one set so I'm happy with the way I played. Rezai has a big game but I always felt in control. If I could have mapped out how I wanted to start the year, this would be it."

In the last few months, Davenport has displayed some classic form to pull off a comeback to remember. She won her comeback tournament at Bali, reached the semifinals of Beijing and won again at Québec City, and now kicks off 2008 with her 54th career Tour singles title, which moves her past Monica Seles for No.8 on the all-time list (she tied Seles' 53 at Québec City).

"I'm surprised with the way I've come back," the American continued. "I'll let the others judge where I'm at right now, but I think at the Australian Open I'll be the biggest floater in the draw. I haven't set any goals but I'd be really excited to get to the quarterfinals."

For Rezai, this week provided an encouraging start to what she hopes to be her own comeback season - she had her first Top 50 season in 2006 but ended 2007 down at No.80, largely due to 18 first round losses in 22 tournaments, although she did squeak in her first career Tour final at Istanbul. But it was an excellent week for the 20-year-old, who beat seeds Eleni Daniilidou and Katarina Srebotnik in straight sets en route to her second Tour final.

"It was tough today - I tried to move her but she just didn't give me time to hit good forehands and backhands," Rezai said. "I have friends here now so for sure I'll try to come back next year. Right now, I'm feeling better about my game and am just looking forward to my first match in Melbourne."

Others making noise at the ASB Classic this week were fallen semifinalists Tamira Paszek and Marina Erakovic, the latter of whom gave her home crowds lots to cheer about as she won three rounds - including rallying back from a 4-2 third set deficit to surprise top seed Vera Zvonareva in a third set tie-break - en route to her career-first Tour semifinal. She was the first New Zealander to feature in the final four of this event in 18 years.

Also in the winner's circle were Mariya Koryttseva and Lilia Osterloh, who downed Martina Müller and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova for the doubles title, 63 64. Each team beat out a pair of seeds en route to the title match but it was the Ukrainian-American duo that would eventually come away with the trophy, gaining critical breaks at the end of each set en route to victory. It was the third career Tour doubles title for Koryttseva and the second for Osterloh. (WTA)