Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Dementieva gets her breakthrough win

AP , CARSON, CALIFORNIA

Elena Dementieva of Russia goes to the net to return a shot during her match against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Montenegro at the JP Morgan Chase Open in Carson, California, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Elena Dementieva overcame her own nerves and Jelena Jankovic's gambling style for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory in the JPMorgan Chase Open final on Sunday.

Dementieva smacked a cross-court forehand winner on her third championship point of the two-and-a-half hour match, then jumped and squealed with delight at winning her second title this year and sixth of her eight-year pro career.

"I feel like it's just starting for me. I'm just getting to my best game," she said. "I just need one more step. I feel young enough. It just takes longer for me."

Dementieva's nerves were apparent a game earlier, when she sidearmed some serves in and got broken at 5-4 after squandering two match points. She had been a three-time semi-finalist here.

"Finally, a big win," she said. "I hope I'm becoming a more consistent player."

Serving out the match, Jankovic used the new electronic line-calling system to challenge an in call trailing 15-30 -- a gutsy move because if she had been wrong, she would have faced triple match point.

She was right, the ball was out, but her subsequent backhand error set up Dementieva's third and final match point.

"Sometimes she was hitting the ball like she doesn't care. She was hitting hard and everything was in. It was hard to close this match," Dementieva said. "She's very unpredictable. Sometimes she goes for the winner and she has an incredible backhand down the line."

Dementieva, a 24-year-old who was the 2004 French and US Open runner-up, raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set. But Jankovic -- helped by some well-placed volleys -- reeled off four consecutive games to get back in the match after receiving treatment for heat-related symptoms.

"When I was coming back, I made so many good volleys and I said, `Where were those volleys in the beginning?'" she said.

Both players cooled down with ice packs during changeovers. In between sets, Dementieva left the court to change her clothes while Jankovic stayed in the heat and amused herself by watching the stadium's "kiss cam."

"It was hot and we had some long points," Jankovic said. "In the beginning of the third set, I felt really tired and slow."

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