Moving across the court like an elegant gazelle, Elena Dementieva showed today why she has spent so much time in the top 10 and made two Grand Slam finals. But Dementieva did something different today: She added an excellent service game to her already unparalleled defensive game, and ran over Serena Williams, from whom she had never before taken even a set.
Dementieva did not always have a bad serve. Following a shoulder injury several years ago, she began to doubt her toss, and the more she doubted it, the less stable it became. According to at least one commentator, she used a compensatory serve for a while, and then could not stop using it. Her double fault record is extreme, though--in practice--observers say she hits serves that range from good to very good.
She tossed in some double faults today, but only six, and even her second serve proved effective from time to time. Serving at 5-6 in the first set, Dementieva went to pieces, easily handing the set over to Williams. But after that, it was all Dementieva, whose three-set match record has always been one of the best on the tour.
She repeatedly broke Williams, whose serve was very strong, but whose game broke down over time as she searched for places to put the ball where the speeding Dementieva could not get to them. Dementieva took the ball quickly, and played with such controlled flow that all Williams could do was shake her head and bang her racquet on the court. Final score: Dementieva def. Williams, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1
Dementieva will return to the top 10, where she belongs, on Monday.