Elena Dementieva gave herself an early birthday present when she beat Serena Williams 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to win the Kremlin Cup yesterday. Nikolay Davydenko beat France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5, 7-6 in the men's final to retain his title and complete a Russian double.
Dementieva, 26 today, played strongly after losing the first set, breaking the American three times in each of the next two sets for a first win over the former world No 1. The 14th-ranked Russian had not won a set off Williams in four previous meetings.
The players traded breaks in the first set before Williams broke to love in the 12th game. Dementieva, a Muscovite seeking a first title on home soil in her 11th Kremlin Cup, and after losing finals here in 2001 and 2004, came out fighting in the second set. Urged on by a 10,000-strong crowd, she broke the world No 7 three times to win the second set in just 24 minutes, before repeating the feat in the decider.
Dementieva took the $182,000 (£89,400) first prize on her second opportunity when Williams's forehand sailed wide.
"It's a great victory for me," she said, considering her eighth career title. "This has been one of my favourite tournaments and playing at home in front of my fans, finally I was able to do it. It is a very important win for me and my whole career.
"She just played really unbelievable, she should play like that more often," said Williams, who was making a second visit to Moscow 10 years after her debut, when she lost in the first round as a 16-year-old.
"I'm not going to make excuses for myself. I played terrible. I had a feeling that almost every shot I hit, it was out," added the Australian Open champion, who committed 59 unforced errors to her opponent's 31.
Davydenko, who called for a medical time-out late in the second set to treat his right wrist, needed four match points to finish off the fourth-seeded Frenchman for his third victory in Moscow in four years.
* In Stockholm, the Croatian Ivo Karlovic blasted 27 aces past Sweden's Thomas Johansson to win the final of the Stockholm Open 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 yesterday, taking his third title of the year on a third surface.