Dementieva wins in straight sets
TORONTO -- Elena Dementieva's U.S. Open tuneup was an overwhelming success.
The No. 4 seed overcame an ugly first set to beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday in the final of the Rogers Cup. Dementieva's steady play was too much for an error-prone Sharapova to handle in the first all-Russian final in tournament history.
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A hardcourt specialist, Dementieva dominated No. 2 Serena Williams in the semifinal, and had a similarly easy time against former No. 1 Sharapova as she prepares for the U.S. Open, which gets under way Aug. 31.
"It's great to have so many good matches against so many top-10 players here," said Dementieva, who has three wins in 11 career meetings with Sharapova. "I hope it's going to be good preparation. For sure, this kind of win gives you a lot of confidence, so right now it's all about recovering and getting ready for New York."
Playing in her first final since a serious shoulder injury, Sharapova committed 10 double faults and had trouble with even the most routine shots.
Despite the loss, Sharapova said she was pleased by her overall performance.
"I think it was a really great week for me," Sharapova said. "Playing six matches was great leading up to the U.S. Open. I think this was really good preparation."
Both players fought breezy conditions in front of a packed house at the Rexall Centre during a sloppy first set. It featured eight service breaks, 14 double faults and a number of easy shots hit long, or drilled into the net.
Dementieva went ahead 4-1 on the strength of two breaks -- the first aided by three Sharapova double faults. But Sharapova saved three break points in the next game to hold serve, and closed within 4-3 when Dementieva double faulted to lose her service game.
Both players traded breaks before Dementieva finally finished things off, converting her third set point when Sharapova hit a forehand into the net.
The second set was a little tamer, with both players holding serve until the sixth game. Sharapova fought off two break points but fired a forehand into the net on the third to hand Dementieva a 4-2 lead.
That was all Dementieva needed, as she held serve throughout and clinched her 14th career WTA Tour title when Sharapova's drop shot fell into the net on the third championship point.
"I really like to play this tournament, but I've never done anything better than first or second round, which was very disappointing for me," Dementieva said. "Every time I come I have such great crowd support.
"I just feel so happy to finally win this title. It means a lot to me."
It's the second straight year a Russian has won the Rogers Cup women's title, after Dinara Safina captured last year's championship in Montreal. Dementieva took home $350,000 for the victory, while Sharapova earned $175,000.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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