Tuesday, August 29, 2006
When the Chakvetadzes ruin it for the Davenports
I happened to be in the home of a stranger (it was a craigslist thing) who was watching the start of Davenport's first round US Open match yesterday. Seeing that she was hitting and serving well, I said aloud "wow--seems like her shoulder is better." And the stranger basically said Davenport was never really injured that badly. That she may have felt some pain and just opted, two days before the Open started, to pull out of the final in New Haven last Saturday.
I was shocked by his explanation. I didn't see the match against Henin-Hardenne but I read the coverage. I read Davenport's statements about how wanted to saw her arm off. And she did lose the first set 6-0. I believed her. I still believe her, despite this man's very strong, matter-of-fact assertion.
I believe her because 1) I have seen people tank matches and it doesn't look like that. I have seen people who have been slightly injured give less than their all. And when there is a twinge, the scoreboard doesn't look like it did on Saturday.
And second, I believe Davenport because she is Lindsay Davenport. In this situation I see the recent behaviors of players such as Anna Chakvetadze and Justine Henin-Hardenne as bringing forth a shadow of doubt over the women's tour. Even the incident with Mary Pierce at last year's Open with the multiple back-to-back injury timeouts (all within the rules) in her win over Dementieva in the semis made things on the tour look a little less than legit--to put it mildly. (And perhaps has led to comments such as those by Justin Gimelstob about "drama" and such--not that I am excusing his remarks from the recent and more distant past.)
The tour seems tainted in some way and even those with impeccable on and off court behavior are being dragged into the muck.