Dementieva Overcomes Oudin

Paris Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, February 14th, 2010

Elena Dementivea Defeated Oudin to move into Finals of Paris Open 2010Top seed Elena Dementivea has been there before. Drawing from her vast experience, the elegant Russian beauty overcame a stern challenge from 18-year old upstart Melanie Oudin. The three set 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win avenged a loss at last year’s U.S. Open and moved Elena into the finals against Czech star Lucie Safarova, an upset winner against Italy’s second seeded Flavia Pennetta.

Dementieva had her hands full with Oudin. The match featured 14-break games as both players had difficulty holding serve. In the end, the Russian’s composure proved to be the difference as she dramatically cut down on her unforced errors and added needed pace to keep Melanie well behind the baseline.

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Oudin lost her opening service game but bounced back breaking at 2-3 then holding to take a 4-3 advantage. The ball retriever extraordinaire was moving into the court to hit both forehand and backhand winners. Dementieva seemed unnerved by the mighty mite’s persistence and was broken again at 3-4 to fall behind 5-3.

The favorite rallied to break back and get back on serve at 4-5. Oudin was not finished. As she does so well, she put the game aside and came out firing. Taking high-risk shots, she combined several forehand winners with some aggressive net charges to break Dementieva and capture the first set.

When Oudin held in the first game of the second set, she seemed to be on a roll. As the champion she is, Elena began to hit the ball on the rise and forced Melanie behind the baseline, where she began to hit short balls. Dementieva broke to go up 2-1 but Oudin answered to square the set.

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At 3-3, Elena used forceful returns to capture a hard fought 7th game that spelled doom for the American. Oudin fought off one set point but could not get back on serve and lost the set.

After an exchange of breaks, Oudin used a deft baseline drop shot to gain the advantage and then smacked a crosscourt forehand winner to break Dementieva again and go up 2-1. Between games, Elena seemed to change her strategy. She moved well inside the baseline. The revision worked effectively. When she broke back at 2-2, it was the 13th break of the match.

After holding to go up 3-2, Elena got the last and 14th break to build an insurmountable lead. It was Oudin’s first semifinal appearance in a SONY Ericson event. With two Federation Cup singles win in France last weekend, Oudin seems back on her game after a slow start in 2010. The Federation Cup wins were on clay where she is not at her strongest. Oudin’s serve continued to improve but weakened late in the match. For the American to win, she must hit a high percentage of first serves.

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In the lower bracket, Lucie Safarova reached her second finals here with a come from behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over favored Flavia Pennetta. The bouncy Czech edged out a second set that featured five consecutive loss of serves.

Pennetta seemed to come unglued in the set as Safarova gradually took control of the court. When she closed out the set with a break and a hold, Pennetta seemed at sail.

The Italian pulled it together in the third set that only featured one break. When Lucie captured a key break to nose ahead 4-3, she grabbed a lead she would not relinquish. Safarova will be a decided underdog against Dementieva but has the game to pull a surprise.

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