Dementieva Silences Sharapova In All-Russian Final at Rogers Cup
August 23, 2009 -- Elena Dementieva silenced her countrywoman Maria Sharapova today, winning the title of the 2009 Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre, Toronto. It was the first time in its 117-year tournament history that Rogers Cup presented an all-Russian final. It was also the first time that Dementieva and Sharapova had reached the final in what is considered Canada's largest tennis championship. Attendance a this year's Rogers Cup was 138,135. This topped their previous record set in 2007.
"It was great to play a Russian final here," Dementieva said. "Every time I come here, I feel like we have such a great support from Russian fans and from the crowd here in Canada." Close to a quarter million speak Russian in this northern section of Toronto.
Dementieva also spoiled Sharapova's hopes of her first comeback title, after returning to the WTA tour from shoulder surgery.
"It was a really great week for me," Sharapova said. "Playing six matches was great leading up to the U. S. Open. This was really good preparation."
Bearing in mind that the last three Rogers Cup female champions have gone on to win the U. S. Open, the outcome of today's match couldn't be better news for Elena Dementieva, who will rise one spot in the WTA rankings to number 4, on Monday.
"I feel it's great to have so many good matches against top ten players here," Dementieva said. "I hope it's going to be good preparation; one week is not going to change anything. This kind of win gives you a lot of confidence, so right now it's all about recovery and getting ready for New York."
Dementieva captured her Rogers Cup title on the third championship point -- 64 63 -- fending off a surge of aggression from the screechy Sharapova. This is Dementieva's 14th career title.
Once she realized she'd crossed the finish line, Dementieva fell to her knees in joy.
"I've waited so many years to hold this racquet," Dementieva said. "I am so happy." The crystal trophy is a replica of a tennis racquet and sits inside a base.
From the crack of the first ball to the last, Dementieva's intense competitive spirit penetrated her game, the match, and the fans' senses. However, the match was not without its pitfalls.
"I just feel I played a huge day," Dementieva said. "I was fighting for every point, so many long rallies. It was not the way I like to play. It was a more defensive game today. I waited for my chances and didn't rush."
Dementieva wracked up seven double faults, the most in any of her matches this week. Sharapova topped that with ten double faults, three coming in the first game of the match which she rightfully lost.
But Sharapova had more problems than her serve over the course of the two-hour match. Her shots were too long, too short, and her drop shots gave a speedy Dementieva more than enough time to make Sharapova regret her selection. During one extended point, and there were many of them, Sharapova set up a put-away shot that instead clipped the net and dribbled outside the singles sideline. Her head dropped in disappointment as she trod to the baseline.
"I wasn't as fresh as I was in the first round," Sharapova said. "But, it's a final, so you can't really think about it. That's the way things go."
Dementieva missed her initial opportunity to take the first set. However, this didn't stop her from pursuing the object of her desire -- the title from her first Rogers Cup.
Dementieva saved three of seven break points held against her for the match while Sharapova saved ten out of fifteen. At times, though, fans wondered if either woman would break through. Finally at the start of the second set they stayed on serve until Dementieva tipped the scale with a break.
"Sometimes you really have to find a winning way when something goes wrong, and that's what happened today," Dementieva said. "I was not playing my best, but I was able to find the winning way and fight through the match."
Great champions know how to do that. To pull themselves through the eye of the needle when winds whip, shots fall short at times, and breaks of serve are more frequent than they'd intended. Dementieva's love of competition, no matter the venue or level of tournament, distinguishes her and her career. She is a great champion.