Russians Pull Off Trifecta in Women's Singles Tennis

ReutersDementyeva celebrating her gold medal after defeating compatriot Safina in the women's singles final on Sunday.
BEIJING -- Yelena Dementyeva took advantage of 17 double-faults by Dinara Safina to beat her fellow Russian 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 Sunday in the women's singles final at the Beijing Olympics.

Dementyeva, 26, has been plagued for much of her career by serving yips, but it was a frustrated Safina who struggled to put the ball in play. After double-faults she flung her racket, broke it and smacked a ball into the stands, but the tantrums failed to help.

Dementyeva also packed more punch from the baseline and hit twice as many winners, 26 to 13.

In doubles, Venus and Serena Williams of the United States won the gold, beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2, 6-0. The sisters celebrated with shrieks, then shared a hug.

When the No. 5-seeded Dementyeva closed out her victory with a forehand winner, she collapsed to her knees, then walked to net and received a congratulatory hug from Safina. Dementyeva, who won the silver at Sydney in 2000, cut Safina's 15-match winning streak.

"I never expected a medal -- gold, silver or bronze," Dementyeva said. "It's unbelievable. For me this is the best moment in my career. I'll never forget it."

Elise Amendola / AP
From left, Safina, Demetyeva and Zvonareva rejoicing on the podium Sunday.

Russia swept the medals in women's singles when Vera Zvonareva beat Li Na of China 6-0, 7-5 to win the bronze. That victory made Russia the first nation to win all three medals in one tennis event since Great Britain did so in the 1908 women's singles.

Dementyeva at a Glance
Age: 26 (date of birth: Oct 15, 1981)

Place of birth: Moscow, Russia

Career achievements:

Runner-up, 2004 U.S. Open, women's singles

Runner-up, 2004 French Open, women's singles

Semifinalist, 2008 Wimbledon, women's singles

Semifinalist, 2005, 2000 U.S. Open, women's singles

Previous Olympic results:

Silver medal, 2000 Olympics, women's singles

First round, 2004 Olympics, women's singles

Dementyeva was formerly coached by Rausa Islanova -- mother of fellow Russian Dinara Safina -- whom she beat in Sunday's final. She enjoys playing chess, skiing and also used to have a cactus collection.
-- Reuters

Tennis was not a medal sport between 1924 and 1988.

The Williams sisters improved their lifetime Olympic doubles record to 10-0. They won the doubles gold at Sydney but didn't play in Athens four years ago because Serena was hurt.

"It does mean more for me to win it with Serena, to share this kind of moment with your sister," Venus said. "I mean, we are practically joined at the hip."

Yan Zi and Zheng Jie of China beat Ukraine's Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko for the bronze, 6-2, 6-2.

The singles final began with only about a thousand spectators in the 10,000-seat stadium, but it was mostly full by the end 2 1/2 hours later.

Dementyeva lost her first three service games and needed 14 points to hold for a 1-0 lead in the second set, giving her a toehold in the match. A flurry of errors by Safina in the final game of the second set helped Dementyeva break to even the match.

Safina banged her racket against the concrete when she double-faulted three times to lose serve and fall behind 3-1 in the final set. She served with a chance to reach for 4-all but committed four unforced errors and her final two double-faults.

Dementyeva then served out the victory to complete the best week of her career, beating eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.