Dementieva, Jankovic Reach L.A. Final

August 12, 2006 06:15 PM
Elena Dementieva 225 w

CARSON, California (Ticker) - Maria Sharapova will not be winning a second straight title in Southern California.

The winner of last week's Acura Classic in San Diego, the top-seeded Sharapova was beaten by third seed and fellow Russian Elena Dementieva, 7-5, 6-2, on Saturday in the semifinals of the JPMorgan Chase Open.

The world's sixth-ranked player, Dementieva had been just 1-5 vs. Sharapova, including straight-sets losses in the final at Indian Wells and quarterfinals at Wimbledon earlier this year.

"I feel really great," Dementieva said. "I lost to her twice this year and I was looking forward to this match because she is such a tough player. This win really means a lot to me."

"I came out flat," Sharapova said. "I put two points together but would deflate for the next four."

Sharapova admitted the grind of the last two weeks had adverse effects on her play during the stunner under hot and steamy conditions at the Home Depot Center.

"It's common sense, there's nothing tricky to the matter," said Sharapova, who committed a whopping 46 unforced errors and had just 20 winners in the match, which lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes. "I played nine matches in the last 13 days, that pretty much sums it up.

"I started feeling it this week but after a while there's only so much you can force your body to do."

Sharapova was scheduled to play the Rogers Cup in Montreal next week, but the weary 19-year-old announced after Saturday's loss she is pulling out of the event.

Jelena Jankovic 225 w

"I'm deeply saddened to have to withdraw from the Rogers Cup," Sharapova said in a statement. "Unfortunately, my body is very fatigued because of the extensive number of matches that I have played over a short period of time, and I don't feel that I can perform at the level required."

Dementieva, who has a history of failing to close out matches, blew six match points on Sharapova's serve in the final game. But Sharapova netted a swinging forehand to set up another, then sent a forehand well long on the next point, causing Dementieva to jump up and scream in delight.

"When you play against Maria, she is great fighter, so you have to be ready to play every point," Dementieva said. "She never gives up - that's what makes it difficult to play against her."

Searching for her first title since Tokyo in February, Dementieva will face 16th-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic in Sunday's final at the $600,000 Tier II U.S. Open warmup event.

Jankovic, who ended Serena Williams' run with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph in the nightcap, has split two career meetings with Dementieva.

"(Jankovic) doesn't have such a weapon like Serena has with such a big serve and forehand, but she's a pretty solid player," Dementieva said.

A seven-time Grand Slam champion, Williams was granted a wild card this week after playing in just two prior events this year because of a left knee injury. A two-time winner here, Williams struggled to reach her second semi of the season, having to rally past fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-4, on Friday.

Jankovic improved to 2-1 all-time vs. Williams, also winning at Dubai in 2005. In that match, Williams dropped the first set at love and retired with an injury in the second set.