As I was watching Lindsay Davenport play Martina Hingis in their fourth round match at Indian Wells today, I couldn’t help but think about the state of American women in the game at the moment. Maybe it was watching Andre Agassi lunging at Tommy Haas’ serve last night but the thought crossed my mind that Davenport might not be around all that much longer.

Hingis has won 19 out of 25 matches since returning from a three year layoff but she was not the story during this match even though she won it, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

The match rested on Davenport’s racket but Davenport couldn’t keep the ball in play. Again and again she set up a winner and hit the ball wide or long. It wasn’t like Agassi last night, she was getting to the ball, but she wasn’t putting it in the court. She had twenty-one errors in the first set alone.

Everybody is always trying to get rid of you long before you’re ready to go. Davenport could be having a bad day. She played well this year in the two events she entered reaching the quarters at the Australian Open and the semis in Dubai.

And, no, she’s not ready to go just yet but in the post-game interview she revealed that she was diagnosed with a bulging disc last week. She wants to play in Miami, the next tour event, but then she plans to take four to six weeks off. That puts her smack dab in the middle of the clay court run-up to the French Open. She should consider following Agassi by skipping the entire clay court season. That might be too much of a concession for Davenport’s pride but surely playing short points on hard court and grass is better rehabilitation for a bulging disc than hours running around on red clay.

Meanwhile, back to those American women. The men’s side is not great but it’s o.k. Roddick should be around for a while to come, James Blake is at number 14, we hope that Ginepri rights himself and we also hope that Donald Young wins a match on the tour some time soon. The women’s side? Well, there’s part-time Venus Williams at number 10 then we’re down to Amy Frazier, who is 35 years old, at number 47. Laura Granville and Ashley Harkleroad at 52 and 78 are both in their twenties but they’ve been ranked higher in the past than they are now. Harkleroad lost to Davenport 6-0, 6-0 in the second round here and Granville lost to Davenport 6-4, 6-0 in the third. That leaves us with Serena Williams at 58 and Lisa Raymond at 68. Serena is a television star and Raymond is thirty-two years old.

That is a bleak picture.

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