Keothavong runs Dementieva close in uplifting display

Six months ago Anne Keothavong could hardly have imagined being on the same court as Elena Dementieva. In the US Open here last night, however, the British No 1 gave the Olympic champion the sort of stringent examination she could barely have expected from a 24-year-old who broke into the world's top 100 only this summer.

Dementieva won their third-round match 6-3, 6-4, but the scoreline did not do justice to Keothavong's spirited display. Just as she had in the previous two rounds against Alexa Glatch and Francesca Schiavone, the Londoner hit the ball with a freedom that belied her lack of experience.

Having played her earlier matches to the background of constant noise on the outside courts, Keothavong coped impressively with what could have been an unnerving experience in Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second of the main show arenas, even if it was less than a third full at the start.

The Briton is at her best when going for her shots and once again did not hold back, especially on her crunching forehand. Dementieva, the world No 5, is a superb athlete who hits the ball hard and flat, but Keothavong fought fire with fire. "She played really well," Dementieva said afterwards. "She certainly wasn't afraid to hit the ball pretty hard."

In the end the differences were Keothavong's greater ratio of unforced errors – 38 compared to Dementieva's 22 – and the Russian's assurance on the bigger points. Both players had 10 break points: Dementieva converted six and her opponent only three.

On the night before the match the Briton and her coaches, Claire Curran and Nigel Sears, had eaten at the same French restaurant that had brought her good fortune before the previous rounds. "It was a bit embarrassing," Keothavong said. "It wasn't very busy, but there were people sitting where we usually sit, so I had to walk out while Claire asked them to move. I was too embarrassed to ask myself, but they were very nice about it. They moved, though it obviously didn't work."

Keothavong got off to an erratic start, dropping her serve to 15 in the opening game, but it was soon clear that this would be no meek surrender. From 40-15 down in the next game she went on the attack and broke back immediately, only to drop serve twice more as Dementieva won the set in 34 minutes.

When the Russian took a 3-1 lead in the second set it seemed the end might be swift, but Keothavong responded admirably, breaking twice to lead 4-3. Even when Dementieva levelled at 4-4 Keothavong had chances to break again, but the Russian held firm and eventually converted her third match point with a backhand winner.

The Briton will climb into the world's top 70 for the first time after her results here, but even though she was happy with her week's work she felt she could have done better. "I hit too many errors on routine shots," she said. "I created opportunities for myself, but I just didn't play those points the way I would have liked to.

"I can compete with these girls. I don't think the gaps are as big as I once thought. I know what I need to work on. I can go back home now, get stuck in and work on those things. I feel like I can climb the rankings. I feel the next stage for me is to break into the top 50."

At the start of the tournament Dementieva was one of six women who could end the fortnight as world No 1. Ana Ivanovic could yet hold on to top spot, despite her second-round exit, but the No 3, Svetlana Kuznetsova, beaten yesterday by Katarina Srebotnik, is out of the running. In contrast, the top three in the men's singles all went through to the third round in straight sets, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic beating Ryler DeHeart, Thiago Alves and Robert Kendrick respectively.

Andy Murray is now the last Briton left in singles competition. The world No 6 plays his third-round match this afternoon against Jurgen Melzer in what will be a taste of things to come when Britain meet Austria at Wimbledon next month in a Davis Cup World Group relegation play-off. John Lloyd, Britain's Davis Cup captain, named his team yesterday. Murray and Alex Bogdanovic will play singles, with two doubles specialists, Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins, completing the line-up.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project