Stellar footwork, beautiful volleys, double faults followed by aces, match points saved, and so close to a win....only to see it fade away.
All one can say is: Elena's back.
Elena Dementieva, the Queen of Quirk, who defeated Marion Bartoli in a frustratingly inconsistent quarterfinal match, said she wanted some tough matches so she can be prepared for the U.S. Open. Dementieva tore her calf muscle during the French Open and had to drop out for a while. She was given a wild card into Pilot Pen Tennis, and--despite her loss to top seed Caroline Wozniacki in tonight's semifinal match--the 4th seed certainly got what she asked for.
This was one of those matches that "should" have been a final. The shifts in momentum, and the fighting spirit displayed by both players, made the match exciting, to the extent that it was impossible to predict the winner until the very last moment. There were thrilling rallies, great volleys, expertly delivered lobs, and some good serving. There were also a lot of twists and turns, which came as no surprise, since Dementieva and Wozniacki are two of the best defenders in women's tennis. Both women missed a number of opportunities to win games rather routinely, but that just created more tension for the spectators.
Wozniacki got off to a slow start, making repeated errors--including on her serve--and winning only one game in the first set. She broke Dementieva right away in the second set, then held serve, though neither she nor her opponent held serve again in the set, which Wozniacki won, 6-3. Despite the breaks of serve, there was plenty to enjoy in the second set, but the best was yet to come.
Dementieva took the lead in the third set, but--knowing the patterns of both Wozniacki and Dementieva--it was hard to take that lead too seriously. Wozniacki fought her way back, but Dementieva took it to 5-4 and served for the match. Wozniacki broke her, and the tension moved up a notch. Wozniacki went up 6-5, and Dementieva, serving at 0-40, hit three consecutive winners to save three match points. She then made two more consecutive points, and then three more, to go up 3-0 in the tiebreak. She seemed to be on a fast path to victory, but it was Wozniacki who won the tiebreak 7-5, and--after two hours and 35 minutes--she had fought her way to her third consecutive New Haven final.
Dementieva, on the other hand, got stuck in the Pilot Pen semifinals for the fourth time in her career.
The defending champion won the Rogers Cup last week, and had to play her final two matches on one day because of rain delays. However, play started late in New Haven because of rain, and Wozniacki--who had a bye in the first round--received a walkover from Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals. She received some brief medical treatment during tonight's match, but seemed fine afterwards.
Wozniacki, who won the tournament in 2008 and 2009, will play Nadia Petrova in the final. Petrova was leaving Montreal for New York when she was given a last-minute wild card into the New Haven draw.