Seles, Davenport win first two Fed Cup matches

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – Monica Seles breezed past Tzipi Obziler 6-4, 6-2, and Lindsay Davenport overpowered Anna Smashnova 6-3, 6-3 Saturday, giving the United States a 2-0 lead over Israel in their Fed Cup playoff.
Davenport, sidelined from serious competition since injuring her knee in November and returning from knee surgery in January, showed the same power that once made her No. 1 in the world, dominating Smashnova with power serves and ground strokes that pushed Israel’s No. 1 player far behind the baseline.

Davenport showed signs of rust by making a number of unforced errors. But whether she was hitting winners or unforced errors, Davenport controlled the tempo of the match, played in 32-degree (90 F) heat.

In the second match, Seles demonstrated too much experience and savvy for her lesser-ranked opponent.

To close out the first set, Obziler crushed a backhand passing shot down the line. But Seles lunged to her right and feathered a short-angle, backhand drop shot that clinched the set and brought a collective gasp from the audience of about 2,000.

After a 6-4 first set, she took total control of the match in the first meeting between the two. In a somewhat uneven first set, Seles appeared to do only as much as she needed to stay ahead.

Davenport struggled only when she was serving for the match at 5-3. Smashnova fought off three match points before the Davenport gave the U.S. team the opening victory in the best-of-five competition.

Davenport’s second serves were in the 85 mph (136 kph) range — usually faster than Smashnova’s first serves.

Davenport consistently tried to draw Smashnova wide, which opened the court for multiple winners down the line.