August 23, 2009

Ron Turenne

August 23, 2009

Elena Dementieva was crowned Rogers Cup champion after defeating Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court at Rexall Centre. The 27-year-old fought hard against Sharapova in a match that was much closer than the score would indicate. Dementieva also became the second consecutive Russian to win Rogers Cup, as fans were treated to fabulous tennis in the event's first all-Russian final.

"I feel so happy to win today," said Dementieva immediately after the match. "I've come to this tournament for so many years and I finally won."

Both players struggled with their serve throughout the first set, as Dementieva broke Sharapova an astonishing five times. She jumped out to an early 4-1 first-set lead, before Sharapova made things interesting by converting three break points of her own. Many of the games featured multiple deuces, as Dementieva continuously frustrated Sharapova with her defense. She thrilled the crowd by returning Sharapova's powerful ground strokes and winning many of the long back-and-forth rallies.

"I was fighting for every point," said Dementieva. "She put a lot of pressure on the first two shots, and I was just waiting for my chances and didn't rush."

Another story in the first set was Sharapova's inability to control her serve, as she double-faulted nine times and gave Dementieva free points. The eventual champion took advantage, as she broke Sharapova to win the frame.

The Russians stayed on serve until the sixth game of the second set, when Dementieva broke Sharapova once again to lead 4-2. Then, leading 5-3, she squandered two championship points before Sharapova's drop-shot attempt fell short to end the match. Dementieva fell to her knees, having won her first Rogers Cup title in seven tries, beginning with her first trip to Canada in 1999.

"Every time I come, I have such great crowd support and I just like this tournament," she said. "I just feel so happy to finally win this title and it means a lot to me."

Ranked world No. 5, the 27-year-old captured her third championship of the year, and 14th of her career. Dementieva also raised her career head-to-head record with Sharapova to 3-8. She leaves Canada well prepared for the upcoming US Open, and will head to New York in search of her first Grand Slam title.

"This kind of win gives you a lot of confidence for New York," said Dementieva.

Sharapova, meanwhile, is still in search of her first title since returning from a shoulder injury earlier this year. The former world No. 1 showed a lot of fight on Sunday, saving numerous break points and extending the match. Still, she was unable to come back against Dementieva, one day after climbing back to beat another Russian, Alisa Kleybanova, in the semifinals.

"I certainly had my chances," said Sharapova. "In both of the sets I had so many opportunities to get back in the match."

For Dementieva, it's another significant accomplishment on her career resume, with a Grand Slam title as the only real challenge left. For now, she is simply thrilled to be a champion at Rogers Cup.

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