Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where's your head at?

A few Wimbledon withdrawals were announced yesterday, among them the usual suspects (Carlos Moya-shoulder/grass allergy and Mary Pierce with a bad foot.) More surprising was Lindsay Davenport pulling out. She's still struggling with a back injury. It's too bad. She's always got a chance at Wimbledon, especially with the shallow waters of the women's field these days. A couple of years ago, she was thinking about retirement, when she magically pulled a great season out of her tennis bag. This year, having a marginal record and having to pull out of two majors, those thoughts have to be returning. No one would fault her. She's 30 and probably ready to get off the tour-go-round.
Like Andre Agassi, though, the one thing that could be stopping Lindsay is one word: 'more.' She could have had more majors, more weeks at No. 1. Sure, injuries are just as much a part of her story as the Williams sisters, but the main problem throughout her career has been her mindset. She's a great champion, but the last word associated with Davenport is 'fighter.' She has succeeded despite her poor attitude and focus sometimes. But it's been at the majors, most recently at Wimbledon against Venus in 2005, where the negativity has derailed her whole game. The most puzzling aspect of this is that her game is nearly flawless. She hits the cleanest ball in the WTA locker room right now, and debatably the best serve, first and second. Davenport comes on court armed with enough weapons to beat anyone, and then she misses one shot. That's when the shoulders slump, the cursing begins and the shots clip the net.
Lindsay Davenport should have more than three majors now. Perhaps that's what will keep her going past this latest setback. Maybe her time off with also be good for her head game, because women's tennis seriously needs another contender. Unlike Agassi, she's still got shots at majors as long as her body holds up.

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