Zvonareva beats Clijsters as Dementieva calls time on her career
Originally published on: 29/10/10 23:28
Vera Zvonareva exorcised her US Open demons with a gutsy 6-4 7-5 victory over Kim Clijsters to top the WTA Championships White Group and set up a semi-final showdown with Caroline Wozniacki.
But the match was overshadowed by Elena Dementieva’s shock announcement that her third and final Maroon Group match was to be the last match of her career.
With the semi-final line-up confirmed on Thursday, Friday’s was more about pride and group positions as Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka and Francesca Schiavone all looked to end the season on a high note.
But Dementieva was denied a fairytale ending to her career as Schiavone subjected her to a 6-4 6-2 defeat that was to prove her final match before entering retirement.
The pair embraced at the net as usual, as several of the competitors in Doha filed onto the court accompanied by WTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster, who handed Dementieva a microphone.
“This is my last tournament,” declared Dementieva to the surprise of the onlooking spectators.
“I would like to thank all of the people around the world for supporting me through my career. And I would like to thank my family, especially my mum.”
Trying desperatly to hold back the tears, the Russian said: “It’s so hard to say goodbye to all of you. I want you to know that I am going to miss you so much. Thank you.”
Apparently the staging was planned prior to the match, but Schiavone confesed it came as much as a surprise to her as it did to the spectators.
“Everybody knew – not me,”admitted Schiavone. “She has been a really big example for everybody. I’m friends with her. She feels it is her time to leave. It’s part of life. I wish the best for her. She deserves it.”
Following the emotional send-off, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva faced off to see which of them would be the only player to reach the semi-finals undefeated.
Zvonareva, who crumbled against Clijsters in the US Open final last month, showed great determination thoughout, fighting back from two breaks down in both sets to win the match 6-4 7-5.
“I definitely produced some good tennis today,” said Zvonareva, who also secured the year-end No.2 ranking with the win. “Every tournament I go to I’m trying to do my best to win it. But I have to take it one match at a time.”
The result does not harm Clijsters’ WTA Championships bid, and the US Open champ admitted to feeling a little jaded after her late finish against Victoria Azarenka on Thursday.
“I kind of felt flat out there today,” said Clijsters, who will face Maroon Group winner Sam Stosur in the other semi-final.
“I’ll have the morning off and I’ll practice around 4pm. I’ll be using this time to recover and be as fresh as possible for the semifinals tomorrow.”
In the final match of the evening, Azarenka salvaged some pride with a 6-4 6-1 demolishion of Jelena Jankovic, the Serb’s third straight defeat of the competition.