Dementieva downs Serena in Sydney

16 01 2010

WTA Medibank International: Russian star Elena Dementieva picked up her first title of the season in Sydney, thumping Serena Williams 6-3, 6-2 in the Final.

Dementieva successfully defended a title for the first time in her career to cap a fine week and take her total to 15 tournament wins.  During the week she beat Francesca Schiavone and Daniela Hantuchova before taking three Top Ten scalps; Dinara Safina (2), Victoria Azarenka (7) and Serena (1), dropping just one set along the way to Hantuchova.

The final was marred slightly by an apparent knee injury to Serena, who began wincing and limping when 6-3, 3-0 down but Dementieva had outplayed her from the start, just as she outplayed her other opponenents in Sydney, with some dominant, almost flawless tennis. Serena on the other hand made unforced error after unforced error but confirms that the injury isn’t serious enough to harm her chances in the Australian Open, which begins on Sunday night (UK time).

The tournament began with a strong field and contained nine of the top ten players, Venus Williams being the missing link.  Vera Zvonareva retired after six games of her opening match against Elena Vesnina and the ankle injury which hampered her last season looks set to continue in 2010.  Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic both crashed out in the first round, to Li Na and Agnes Szavay respectively whilst Kuznetsova was beaten by Cibulkova in the second round. Of the top players, it was Dementieva who stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Perhaps the funniest match was played in the second round between Agnes Radwanska and Dinara Safina, as the Russian rallied from 0-5 down in the first set to take the match 7-5, 6-4. Safina looked in good form on occasions in her matches against Radwanska and Dementieva but too often struggled to hit the court.

Elsewhere this week, Alona Bondarenko was victorious in Hobart, beating Shahar Pe’er 6-2, 6-4 in the Final to collect her second career title.  Both players now head to Melbourne to join the rest of the assembled cast for the Australian Open.

Justine Henin was practising in Melbourne this week after pulling out of Sydney to protect a leg injury from becoming more severe, and was joined by Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli.  Sharapova and Bartoli will go into the first slam of the year without playing a competitive tournament as a warm up, although Sharapova was active in a Hong Kong exhibition the week before.  Bartoli, following a succession of injuries last year, including being forced to retire against Aravane Rezai in the season-ending Bali championships, has opted to focus more on her physical maintenance as she aims for further improvements this season. As always, Allez Marion!

Australian Open preview to follow tomorrow.

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