Dementieva Scores Second Win
DOHA, Qatar - When Elena Dementieva woke up this morning, the task at hand, if she wanted to reach the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Championships, was to beat No.3 seed Serena Williams. Both players had beaten Dinara Safina but fallen to Venus Williams so far this week, and with Venus, who had also defeated Safina, safely through with a 3-0 round robin record, Serena and Dementieva needed to break their tie.
But on Friday afternoon Serena, who had been seriously out of sorts in the last two sets of her match against her sister on Thursday, withdrew from the event with a pulled stomach muscle. So second alternate Nadia Petrova was called upon to play the fifth seed; first alternate Agnieszka Radwanska had already been mobilized after Ana Ivanovic, having suffered from a virus all week, demurred to play her match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Dementieva's place in the semis as the Maroon Group's second qualifier was assured from the start, because even if Petrova won their match, she couldn't catch her fellow Russian in terms of number of sets won. Still, both players approached the contest as though their lives depended on it, with Dementieva finally prevailing after nearly two-and-a-half hours, 64 46 64.
"I expected a very tough match today against Serena, because it was an exciting match for both of us and I was ready to play her," Dementieva said. "I just feel sorry for her that she's injured and couldn't come on the court. I mean, it's not the way I wanted to get to the semifinals. I know how it feels to be injured."
The last time Dementieva played Petrova was in the quarters at the Kremlin Cup last month; on that occasion, Dementieva edged her rival in a third set tie-break, so she certainly didn't take anything for granted today. And so it was that Petrova raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, setting the trend for a series of drastic reversals throughout the match. Indeed, in the third set Dementieva had leads of 4-0 and 5-1, only to let her big-serving opponent draw dangerously close.
"For me, emotionally, it was difficult to refocus and play against Nadia, knowing already that I was in the semifinals," she added. "But I didn't want to lose the momentum. I mean, Nadia's a Top 10 player. I think she came on the court very relaxed, enjoying the moment, enjoying the chance to play in the Championships. So it was a tough match."
Having made the last four at the Tour Championships for the first time since her 2000 debut, Dementieva's opponent will be another Muscovite, Vera Zvonareva, who upset top seed Jelena Jankovic in the first match of the day to come top in the White Group.