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Serena, Davenport in California final

July 25, 2004 15:42 IST

Top seed Serena Williams overcame an erratic Elena Dementieva 6-3, 7-6 in their semi-final at the JP Morgan Chase Open on Saturday to set up a title showdown against the in-form Lindsay Davenport.

Earlier in the day, Davenport advanced to her eighth final at this event when Venus Williams was forced to retire from their match with a wrist injury early in the second set.

Davenport was leading 7-5, 2-0 before she was handed a passage into her second straight final. Last week, she won the Stanford title with a three-set victory over Venus. Playing in front of a record crowd of 7,963 fans at the Home Depot Center, Serena raised her game when it mattered to see off the fourth-seeded Russian.

Despite spending a fair amount of the evening retrieving in the one-hour, 39 minute contest, Serena benefited from a more aggressive approach during the big points.

However, the six-time Grand Slam champion was less than impressed with her performance.

"I'm really rough around the edges but hopefully by the time the U.S. Open comes, I'll be better," said Williams, who registered 36 winners to her opponent's 18.

"I'm playing to around 30 percent of my potential. You'd be shocked at what I could do."

French Open finalist Dementieva, who has been plagued by serving problems through most of her career, double faulted the entire third game away to give Serena the break and a 2-1 first set lead.

Cracking her first serve and sending her groundstrokes deep, Serena was able to fight off spirited charges from the Russian, who frequently attacked the net and won 14 of her 19 approaches.

But Dementieva's serve let her down again when she coughed up another one of her 15 double faults to hand the Williams the first set.

"She's weird to play," Serena said. "She strikes winners when you don't expect them and makes errors also unexpectedly, but she never gives up."

Dementieva continued to take risks with her returns and groundstrokes and broke to lead 2-1 in the second set when Serena missed a backhand pass, but the American broke back immediately thanks to another double fault.

In the tie-break, the top seed cracked one of her seven aces to take a 3-2 lead and never looked back, as Dementieva committed four straight errors.

With only one tournament victory this season, Wimbledon finalist Serena admitted to being prepared to work much harder to improve her game.

"Before I wasn't ready. But now I am. I get away with a lot because of my athleticism. I need to do more."

"TOO HEAVY"

Venus believes she hurt her right wrist before practice on Saturday morning when she bent down to tie her shoe. "When I got up I pushed off on it and I tweaked," she said.

"Maybe I'm too heavy."

The 24-year-old had her wrist examined by doctor Asghar Husain, who said that it could be a sprain and advised her to get tests. Venus will be re-examined in Los Angeles on Monday.

Venus has had tendonitis in the wrist four times before and endured a range of other injuries in the past year but is still hopeful of playing at next week's Acura Classic in Carlsbad.

"I'm hoping it will clear up by then," Venus said.

"I just want to be healthy and play good tennis."

With the retirement, Davenport tied the career series against Venus at 12-12. She had lost six straight matches at one point, but has now won the last two.

"I'm happy to be in the final, but obviously the playing conditions weren't level," Davenport said.

Sunday's final will be a rematch of the 2000 decider when Serena defeated Davenport in three sets.

Matthew Cronin
Source: source
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