Olympic boost powers Dementieva to victory

Their most famous compatriot may not be here, but you would still not get much of a price backing a Russian to win the women's singles at the US Open. In the absence of Maria Sharapova, who is nursing a shoulder injury, a host of other Russians fancied their chances as the tournament got under way yesterday.

Dinara Safina has been one of the players of the summer, reaching the finals of the French Open and the Olympics and winning tournaments in Los Angeles and Montreal, while Elena Dementieva has been playing some of the best tennis of her life. Dementieva beat Safina over three sets in the Olympic final and began her campaign here yesterday with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over the Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova (below).

The match was a complete contrast of styles, both in terms of their tennis and appearance. Dementieva, with her long blonde hair and slim figure, is one of the most elegant players in the women's game, though she can crash the ball as hard as anyone with her stylish ground strokes.

Amanmuradova, a 24-year-old making her first appearance at Flushing Meadows, has a much more powerful frame, but although she bludgeoned her fair share of winners the world No 78 lacked the variety of her opponent's game. When she threw in the occasional drop shot Dementieva nearly always read her intentions and chased the ball down.

The first set was close, nevertheless, both players holding serve until Dementieva broke in a marathon ninth game. Amanmuradova saved three break points but could do little about the fourth as Dementieva struck a beautifully executed backhand cross-court pass.

Amanmuradova was first to break in the second set, going 5-3 up when Dementieva struck a forehand long. The Uzbek had two set points in the following game but appeared to wilt under pressure as Dementieva broke back. At 5-5 the Russian broke again, winning the game to love with a superb forehand winning pass down the line, and served out to secure victory in an hour and 28 minutes. She now plays France's Pauline Parmentier, a 6-3, 7-6 winner over New Zealand's Marina Erakovic.

When Dementieva reached two Grand Slam finals in 2004, losing to her fellow Russians Anastasia Myskina at the French Open and Svetlana Kuznetsova here, a bright future beckoned, but a semi-final appearance at the 2005 US Open was her best Grand Slam performance in the following three years.

The last six months, however, have been the most productive period of the Muscovite's career. After winning the title in Dubai, beating Ana Ivanovic and Kuznetsova along the way, she has reached the finals in Berlin and Istanbul, the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where she lost to Venus Williams, plus two more semi-finals and two quarter-finals.

Dementieva described winning the Olympic title as the biggest moment of her life. "Journalists were always asking me what was more important for me, Grand Slam tournaments or the Olympic Games," she said. "Obviously, it's the Olympic Games. They're so much more important to me. I cannot even compare Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic Games. The Games are so much bigger. To be an Olympic champion is the pinnacle of my career."

Asked what her next target would be, Dementieva replied: "I'm not sure that I'll be playing another Olympic Games, so that was the biggest goal in my career. Right now, I don't know what to dream about. There are a lot of things that I can achieve in tennis, by winning a Grand Slam or becoming No 1, but there is nothing compared to the gold medal, nothing."

For a while yesterday another Russian woman looked capable of becoming the first to knock out a seed here, but Anastasia Pivovarova was unable to sustain her game against Patty Schnyder. The No 15 seed won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot