Dementieva leads Russian podium sweep
Elena Dementieva won a combustible final against Dinara Safina to head a Russian one-two-three in the Olympic women's singles on Sunday.sports Updated: Aug 17, 2008 19:09 IST
Elena Dementieva won a combustible final against Dinara Safina to head a Russian one-two-three in the Olympic women's singles on Sunday.
The world number seven recovered from an error-strewn first set to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, making up for her disappointment in losing the 2000 final to Venus Williams.
Dementieva clenched her fists in celebration and then wiped away tears of joy after stopping the in-form Safina for the first time in four attempts this year.
Russia had already been guaranteed the first tennis podium sweep in 100 years when Vera Zvonareva, a late call-up for the injured Maria Sharapova, clinched the bronze medal play-off against China's Li Na 6-0, 7-5.
Meanwhile, 2000 doubles champions Serena and Venus Williams won their second title with a one-sided 6-2, 6-0 win against Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain.
The sisters become only the second pair to win the women's doubles twice after fellow Americans Gigi Fernandez and Mary Jo Fernandez.
Yan Zi and Zheng Jie bagged the bronze against Ukrainian sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko, handing China their second successive women's doubles medal after Li Ting and Sun Tiantian's victory in 2004.
The singles final got off to a low-quality and bad-tempered start with neither player able to hold serve and frustrations growing on both sides of the net.
Safina screamed at herself before finally holding at 2-2 and then breaking at 3-2, prompting shrieks and angry racquet swipes from Dementieva as she went a set down.
Dementieva recovered her composure to take the advantage in the second set before Safina broke back at 2-4. Dementieva crucially held off a break point at 5-5 before levelling at one set each when Safina's backhand slice drifted wide.
Safina was furious at herself when she was broken early in the decider, swiping the ball into the crowd. She broke back only to be broken again at 2-1 and this time took out her anger on her racquet.
Despite being broken again, Dementieva regained her two-game advantage when Safina hit a backhand into the net and the statuesque blonde closed it out on her first match point with a forehand winner.
Russia currently dominates women's tennis with five of the top 10 players and three of the last four Fed Cup titles.
French Open runner-up Safina, ranked just ahead of Dementieva at sixth in the world, had won all three meetings this year and came into the final on a 15-match winning streak.
The women's singles was hit by the withdrawal of Sharapova, then-number one Ana Ivanovic and 1996 champion Lindsay Davenport. Athens 2004 winner Justine Henin announced her shock retirement in May.