BEIJING (Reuters) - Predictions of an all-American women’s singles final between the Williams sisters were blown away on Thursday as Serena lost 3-6 6-4 6-3 to Russia’s Elena Dementieva at the Olympic Tennis Centre.
Williams, playing in her first Olympic singles tournament here despite winning doubles gold in Sydney, appeared on course for victory when she powered through the opening set but her challenge evaporated.
“I didn’t serve well, it was what is was,” fourth seed Williams told reporters. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Dementieva, a singles silver medal winner at the Sydney Olympics, gradually came to terms with her opponent as she found her range with her precision baseline game.
The Russian, who has been known to suffer from nerves at crucial moments throughout her career, outbattled Williams to break serve in the second game of the final set and romped away to a 5-0 lead.
Williams recovered one break of serve and then saved two match points at 2-5. Dementieva kept her nerve, however, and closed out the match at the third attempt in the following game when Williams volleyed wide.
“It was a very exciting moment,” Dementieva told reporters. “This is the biggest tournament for me this year.”
Dementieva now faces an all-Russian semi-final with Vera Zvonareva who beat Austria’s Sybille Bammer 6-3 3-6 6-3.
(additional reporting by Liu Zhen)
(Editing by Keith Weir)
Keywords: OLYMPICS TENNIS/SERENA