Elena Dementieva has been to the US Open final before. Samantha Stosur is striving to get there. They will square off for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals in a clash of one of the best hard-court returners in the women’s game, Dementieva, against one of the most reliable servers in Stosur.
The 12th-seeded Dementieva deconstructed Daniela Hantuchova, 7-5, 6-2, to advance to the fourth round for the eighth time in 12 career Flushing Meadows appearances. Dementieva lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the New Haven semifinals and has continued her solid form in Flushing Meadows this week in winning all six sets she’s played.
French Open finalist Stosur smacked seven aces in sweeping Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-2. Since surrendering the first set of her opening-round 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina, Stosur has not dropped a set.
Dementieva has beaten Stosur four times in five meetings, including a 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3 victory in their last meeting in Toronto last summer. Three of those five matches have spanned the three-set distance.
“We’ve had some good matches in the past. I’ve beaten her once or twice, and then she’s obviously beaten me, as well,” Stosur said. “So I think it’s gonna be whoever can, you know, execute the game plan better on the given day. But I know what I’m gonna want to do against her. If I can do that, I think I have a chance.”
Dementieva has worked diligently to transform her serve from the side-arm, slingshot slice it was when she reached the 2004 US Open final, falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova, and though her serve is not a weapon it has become a much more stable shot.
Stosur is at her best hitting the kick serve to set up her favored forehand and in past matches Dementieva has tried to prevent the muscular Aussie from creating one-two combinations off her serve and forehand by directing her inside-out forehand to Stosur’s weaker backhand wing.
The fact that Stosur will hit the kick on both first and second serves can pose problems for some women, who are unaccustomed to returning off shoulder high balls.
“Samantha, Serena, they both have a very powerful serve, and especially second serve,” Dementieva said. “They have such a good kick. The women don’t usually have this. It’s always very difficult to play against her. She puts a lot of pressure on you when she’s serving. But also, I think she’s very solid on the baseline, and, you know, very experienced player, singles and doubles. She covers the court very well and, you know, can finish the point at the net. She has a great variety to her game. It’s never easy to play against her.”
Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.