Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dementieva outlasts Hantuchova to reach US Open last 16

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Elena Dementieva of Russia hits a return to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2010.

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 -- No. 12 seed Elena Dementieva shook off slow start to topple Daniela Hantuchova in two sets on Friday, advancing into last 16 at the US Open.

Dementieva trailed 5-2 in the first set against the 26th-ranked Hantuchova of Slovakia, but she battled back to win 11 of the next 13 games to take a convincing 7-5, 6-2 win.

"I feel I had a very slow start, and I have feeling that the center court is a bit faster than the outside courts, even with the warmup today on the center court, it really took me some time to get used to the surface," said the 2004 US Open finalist.

Dementieva saved three set points in the first match, proving why she's been one of the most consistent top players on the women's tour over the past 10 years.

She reached the US Open finals in 2004, and the semis in 2000 and 2008. Her win sets up a quarterfinal match with No. 5 seed Samantha Stosur.

"I did not want to lose that first set," said Dementieva. "I was just trying to fight for every point and that was the key for the match. After that I felt so much more confident in the second set and played a more aggressive game."

Dementieva got out early in the first set, breaking in the opening game and holding at love to go up 2-0. But Hantuchova turned the tables, scoring back-to-back breaks to take a 5-2 lead, and in the eighth game she had three set points.

However, the Slovak failed to convert, twice making return of serve errors. After Dementieva held to 5-3, it was her turn to take the momentum. She broke to pull to 5-4, the beneficiary of two Hantuchova double faults, and then broke again to go up 6-5. She held to take the first set and broke Hantuchova in her first three service games in the second.

It had to be a particularly painful loss for Hanchucova, who has won only four of 15 matches against Dementieva and has lost nine of their last 10 meetings.

The early promise that Hantuchova displayed in her career has rarely materialized at Grand Slams. At age 19, she reached the quarters of three straight Grand Slams, at the 2002 Wimbledon and the US Open, and the 2003 Australian Open. She's advanced past the round-of-16 only once since, a semifinal appearance at the 2008 Australian Open.

Dementieva started out 2010 on fire, winning two of her first three tournaments. However, a calf injury in the spring forced her to retire at the French Open and pull out of Wimbledon.

She dropped out of the top 10 in August for the first time in three years, but looks to be playing herself back into form, which should make for an entertaining quarterfinal against Stosur.

Talking about next opponent of last 16 round, Dementieva said: "I think it's gonna be different match. We haven't played for a long time, and Samantha (Stosur) really improves her game a lot. She's playing very well this season, you know, finalist in the French Open."

"She's a very solid player with a huge serve. I expect a tough match against her."


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