Lindsay Davenport: ‘Nadal Will Be Greatest Clay Player Of All Time’

Lindsay Davenport won 55 pro singles titles, 38 doubles titles, three Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal and held the world’s No. 1 ranking for 98 weeks.

Not surprisingly, she has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“Just to be recognized and to go down with the greats of the game was never something I would have envisioned or imagined,” Davenport said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’m excited, I’m humbled, I’m overwhelmed. I guess I knew it was going to happen. I just, it’s hard for me to look back and think that it’s reality. So I’m excited but nervous for the day next month, but hopefully I can enjoy it and not be too overcome with emotion.”

Davenport, 38, will be inducted July 12 along with paralympic medalist Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, executive Jane Brown Grimes and British tennis broadcaster and author John Barrett.

Davenport won the U.S. Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999, and the Australian Open in 2000. But she never won the French Open – the same event that has eluded countless Americans.

Even Novak Djokovic has never taken home the title at Roland Garros.

“I think it’s so tough for the Americans because predominantly we play on the hard courts,” Davenport said. “We spend very little time mastering our game on clay, and clay is about being comfortable, moving on the surface, being able to recover (and) building points. It’s the same sport, but it’s a totally different game played on the clay than it is on the hard court.”

Somehow, Rafael Nadal has won the French Open nine of the last 10 years.

“Rafa Nadal is just a beast,” Davenport said. “Winning nine times, it’s remarkable. He’ll be the greatest clay player of all time.”

Maria Sharapova, to her credit, has won the event two of the last three years, including 2014.

“She was a hard-court player, a fast-court player,” Davenport said. “She had a big game, and she’s completely transformed her game, working so hard on it to be a two-time French Open champion. It’s a lot of credit to her and her team for getting her to become such a great clay court player.”

Serena Williams, meanwhile, struggled mightily at the French Open this year, losing in the second round to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza (6-2, 6-2) in just 64 minutes.

It was Williams’ most lopsided loss at a major.

Nevertheless, Davenport has supreme confidence in the 32-year-old going forward.

“I think it’s going to motivate her,” she said. “For her, the season has been a disappointment so far. She didn’t win the Australian, didn’t win the French (and) hasn’t won a Grand Slam title yet – and that’s why she’s playing.”

Williams, with 17 Grand Slam titles, has won at least one of the four majors in six of the last seven years. She has two more opportunities this year: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“Losing so early at the French Open will be a wake-up call for her and it’ll motivate her even more,” Davenport said. “I wouldn’t bet against her the rest of 2014.”




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