Dementieva Wins All-Russian Final in Auckland
Published January 10, 2009 12:00
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - One was playing her 25th Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles final, one was playing her first. And after a slow start the more experienced one prevailed, as Elena Dementieva fought back from a break down in the first set and eventually rolled to a 64 61 victory over Elena Vesnina in the championship match of the $220,000 ASB Classic in Auckland.
A stunned crowd watched as the unseeded Vesnina totally took it to the top-seeded Dementieva early, breaking her in the third game of the match and building triple break point in the fifth game, sitting on the verge of a 4-1 lead. But the momentum turned on a dime as the 27-year-old began painting the lines with her monstrous forehand and solid backhand, winning five of the next six games to steal the first set from her 22-year-old compatriot, then cruising through the second set for the first Tour trophy of the new season.
"The crowd's support was awesome, not just today but all week," Dementieva said. "It was a pleasure to come here and play this tournament. We all really felt at home here, it was very nice. And for the first time my mom isn't here with me, so I'm especially happy to take this trophy back home for her."
The Elenas had much different paths to the final. Dementieva didn't drop a single set en route, although in her first match of the week against Chan Yung-Jan she did trail 5-1 in the first set; Vesnina looked to be headed for a straight set path too as she routined Aiko Nakamura in the first round and No.6 seed Nicole Vaidisova in the second round, but she was pushed to three sets in the quarters and semis, against No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki and Anne Keothavong.
Vesnina certainly doesn't leave New Zealand without her own victories: her win over the No.12-ranked Wozniacki was her seventh career win over a Top 20 player; as already mentioned she reached her first singles final on the Tour; and she also surpasses $1 million in career prize money with the result.
"It was a great week for me," Vesnina said to the crowd afterwards. "I'm really happy my first final happened here in Auckland. It's a very nice place to be - from the first match, I really fell in love with this city. I'd like to congratulate Elena for her great week - she played really well and deserved this title."
In the doubles final, which followed the singles final, Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja in a match tie-break final, 46 76(3) 1210. It was Dechy and Santangelo's second doubles title together, having won Rome together last May; Dechy left with her fifth Tour doubles title while Santangelo now has seven to her name.
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