By Mike McIntyre
Fans at the Rogers Cup were treated to a real heavyweight match-up Saturday afternoon in Toronto as second seed Serena Williams took on fourth seed Elena Dementieva. Unlike the other half of the draw, these two elite players lived up to their rankings to provide the most anticipated match of the day. But would this match be able to live up to their previous encounter at Wimbledon, where Serena prevailed 6-7(4) 7-5 8-6?
The first set was full of drama that included six breaks of serve. Dementieva was serving for the set at 6-5 and had two set points that Serena managed to hold off. Once in a tiebreak, Dementieva was far more consistent and won seven points to two. Dementieva's return game was far more solid that any previous opponent Serena has faced this week, as the American managed only one ace in the opening set.
Perhaps her lackluster performance in the tiebreak was still on her mind as the second set began, as Dementieva broke early and raced to a 3-0 lead. Serena's footwork worsened and her unforced errors count shot up. Dementieva broke again to go up 5-1 and her victory was all but assured. Serena squandered a break point in the next game which might have given her some momentum, and Dementieva closed out the match 7-6(2), 6-1 on her second match point opportunity when Serena's forehand went wide.
The Russian served at 73% on her first serve in the match, while Serena was only at 61%. Dementieva was more consistent with her groundstrokes as well, although this match was far from a classic. She hit 19 winners compared to 24 unforced errors, while Serena was at a deficit of 17 to 36.
Dementieva revealed that the win was particularly satisfying given how close she came to winning in their semi-final match at Wimbledon in June.
"Yeah, I mean, I was really waiting for this match after Wimbledon, because always very interesting to play against Serena, and especially looking for revenge after Wimbledon. I think I was very positive today on the court and just very satisfied the way I was playing."
Serena was elusive in her post-match press conference, and revealed little about what she takes from playing Dementieva today. When pushed for specific things she could have adjusted, she was not in a sharing mood.
"Well, I just learned how to play her, and I learned how to win. And had I played better, not made as many mistakes, I think I definitely could have won the first set. I was serving for it. I probably should have won, and I didn't."
Dementieva's win delivers the first all-Russian final at the Rogers Cup on Sunday. She moves on to the championship match where she will play Maria Sharapova who was a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 winner over Alisa Kleybanova in the evening match.