TORONTO — Elena Dementieva’s U.S. Open tuneup was an overwhelming success.
The No. 4 seed overcame an ugly first set to beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday in the final of the US$2-million Rogers Cup. Dementieva’s largely steady play was too much for an error-prone Sharapova to handle in the first all-Russian final in tournament history.
For Dementieva, who takes home US$350,000 for the win, the week couldn’t have gone much better.
The hardcourt specialist dominated world No. 2 Serena Williams in the semifinal, and had a similarly easy time against former No. 1 Sharapova as she prepares for the U.S. Open, which gets underway Aug. 31.
“It’s great to have so many good matches against so many top-10 players here,” said Dementieva, who has just three wins in 11 career meetings with Sharapova.
“I hope it’s going to be good preparation.
“For sure, this kind of win gives you a lot of confidence, so right now it’s all about recovering and getting ready for New York.”
By contrast, Sharapova hardly looked like the player that beat three seeded opponents on the way to her first final since April 2008.
Continuing her return from a serious shoulder injury that sidelined her for nearly a year, Sharapova committed 10 double faults Sunday and had trouble with even the most routine shots.
Despite her subpar performance against her compatriot, Sharapova said she was pleased by her overall showing.
“I think it was a really great week for me,” said Sharapova, who pocketed $175,000 for the runner-up result.
“Playing six matches was great leading up to the U.S. Open. I think this was really good preparation.”
Sharapova had to endure a gruelling three-set match against Alisa Kleybanova in Saturday night’s semifinal, and suggested that the quick turnaround might have played a factor in her Sunday struggles.
“I wasn’t as fresh as I was in the first round,” said Sharapova.
“It’s a quick turnaround, but it’s the finals. You can’t really think about it. It’s the way things go.”
The first set was as sloppy as it gets, as both players fought breezy conditions in front of a packed house at the Rexall Centre. It featured eight service breaks, 14 double faults and a number of easy shots hit long, or drilled into the net.
Dementieva went up 4-1 on the strength of two breaks — the first of which was aided by three Sharapova double faults.
But Sharapova saved three break points in the next game to hold serve, and closed to within 4-3 when Dementieva double faulted to lose her service game.