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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hingis, Davenport Lead Strong Field




LONDON -- he towering figure of Lindsay Davenport stands between Martina Hingis and her ambition of winning another Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.


But though Davenport has had the better of the rivalry with Hingis of late, injury has hampered her preparations for next week's defense of her Wimbledon title.


The American, who has beaten Hingis in two of their three meetings this year, has been testing out her back on the Eastbourne grasscourts this week after injuring herself as she warmed up for a match at the Italian Open last month.


She declared herself fit, but rusty.


"My back is feeling fine," said the world No. 2 after winning her first match at Eastbourne on Wednesday. "There was some stiffness in practice but that is not a problem any more.


"It is a major relief, looking forward to Wimbledon," said Davenport.


"I am happy to be back on grass, and my problems today were more about the lack of practice on the surface than fitness," said Davenport, who looked uncomfortable at times during her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over Jana Kandarr of Germany.


If Hingis, who hasn't won a Grand Slam since the 1999 Australian Open, is to exploit this weakness in her rival, she will have to tidy up her own game.


The world No. 1 remains the bookmakers' favorite for Wimbledon despite losing in the semifinals of the French Open, to eventual champion Mary Pierce, and in the final of the Australian Open in January, to Davenport.


Hingis, who could face Venus Williams, another imposing American, in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, has been warming up at the Den Bosch tournament in the Netherlands this week.


But Davenport, her projected opponent in the final, is already on her mind.


"She is the most consistent player in the world," Hingis said. "She has the ability to kill you right away."


Davenport will have to banish all thoughts of friendship when she walks out on to Center Court to begin her defense Tuesday. Her first opponent will be fellow American Corina Morariu, the friend with whom she won the Wimbledon doubles last year.


Wimbledon fans will be pleased to see Anna Kournikova back again.


The Russian, at 17th in the world, has just missed out on a seeding and could be dangerous against 10th seed Sandrine Testud of France in the first round.


The Williams sisters will also be a draw, though U.S. Open champion Serena, the younger by 15 months, had to pull out of the French Open with a knee injury, and Venus was out of action for five months until May with tendinitis in both wrists.