Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Updated: July 2, 6:04 PM ET
Tandon's Wimbledon live blog -- Day 10
By Kamakshi Tandon
Special to ESPN.com
Need the inside scoop on all the latest news, results and gossip during the 2009 Wimbledon Championships? Our fearless blogger Kamakshi Tandon is on hand to fill you in on all the happenings every day. Don't hesitate to ask your questions.
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9
11:13 a.m. ET: Finally! Serena is through to the Wimbledon final 6-7 (4), 7-5, 8-6 as Dementieva finally sends a backhand wide to end this classic semifinal. Richard Williams tips his cap, as do the rest of the Centre Court crowd.
"Elena played so well and we gave the crowd a great match," says Serena, all smiles.
Now her sister Venus, who faces Dinara Safina in the other semifinal, will try to set up another all-Williams final. But Venus and Safina be hard-pressed to match the quality and drama of this encounter. Enjoy the match -- see you tomorrow for the men's semifinals.
11:03 a.m. ET: Riding high from the emotions of that last game, Serena reaches double break point and converts her second by hitting a big crosscourt forehand that Dementieva somehow returns, but Serena reflexes her own return down the line. The 10-time Grand Slam champ has found a new level at these late stages, as she has so often in the past.
Serena is now serving for the match at 7-6.
10:58 a.m. ET: An incredible game with two phenomenal rallies won by Serena to get to 6-6. The first was a monster baseline rally, with Dementieva brought to her knees by a deep blast from Serena. The second was a let cord-interrupted point that ended on a spectacular running crosscourt-angled forehand pass from Serena.
What a match.
10:52 a.m. ET: Note from the BBC commentators: This is now the longest Wimbledon women's semifinal in the Open era at 2 hours, 36 minutes ... and counting.
10:51 a.m. ET: Whatever happens in this match, props are due to Dementieva. Though she's had a few choky moments, she has countered her reputation and has NOT choked on serve. It's 6-5 and Serena serves to stay in the match again -- there's no tiebreak in the third, so we'll be in this pattern until someone breaks.
10:47 a.m. ET: Fever pitch on Centre Court as we're at the business end of the third set. It's 30-30 and Dementieva leads 5-4, and finally she holds her nerve and puts away a short forehand to reach match point. The heartbeats spike on the next point as Serena's volley just clips the net before going over, and then it's an easy Serena serve to bring the score back to deuce.
Now it's 5-5 and the pressure is back on Dementieva, who has been tightening up on her forehand.
10:39 a.m. ET: A 4-3 lead for Dementieva, and perhaps it's time to step back from the drama and get a statistical perspective on the match. Serena is getting 59 percent of her first serves in and winning 78 percent of those points, while Dementieva is 63 percent and 66 percent, respectively.
Neither player is doing too well on break points, with Serena 4-for-10 and Dementieva 3-for-9.
When it comes to winners and unforced errors, Serena is in the black with 35 winners and 25 unforced errors (50 forced) and Dementieva is even with 24 of each (41 forced).
But Dementieva is plus-7 in baseline points (53-46) and Serena is minus-3 (52-55). (Don't ask me why the totals are different.)
Score update: 5-4 for Dementieva, and Serena now finds herself in the same position she was in about 40 minutes ago -- serving to stay in the match.
10:24 a.m. ET: And sure enough, after a choky game from Dementieva, it's on serve again at 3-2. What next?
10:22 a.m. ET: Some excellent forehands from Dementieva, a double-fault and a tight netted forehand from Serena, and Dementieva has broken serve -- excuse me, held her return -- for a 3-1 lead.
But before we can call it a true lead, she has to win her own service game.
10:19 a.m. ET: The big question heading into the third set: Will the match continue to be close, or will it become a runaway? You might expect Dementieva to collapse after the disappointment of the second set, where a number of close calls (correctly) went Serena's way.
But the Russian has surprised us all so far and continues to do so, holding for a 2-1 lead in the third.
10:11 a.m. ET: We interrupt the dramatic Williams-Dementieva semifinal for this bulletin: American doubles player Travis Parrott would like to announce that he has NOT been diagnosed with swine flu.
10:09 a.m. ET: Some amazing baseline rallies between these two, raising the question of who is the better mover. Dementieva has better balance, which makes her a better defensive mover, but Serena has a lot of raw speed and is a more dangerous counterstriker because of her ability to deliver power on the run.
But at end of the second set, it was the mental side that counted. And here Serena was by far the stronger. The two-time former champ unleased an ace on set point and punctuated it with a huge "C'mon."
Dementieva gagged a midcourt forehand a couple of points earlier and will really have to gather herself for the start of the deciding set.
9:56 a.m. ET: Serena has no intention of capitulating and produces a clutch hold at 5-5.
A few minutes later, a Hawk-Eye challenge shows that what seemed to be a lucky let cord from Dementieva was in fact out, and Serena gets the break for 6-5.
Dementieva looked a little nervous in that game and had a few shaky moments, and now it's Serena in the ascendancy. How quickly things change.
9:47 a.m. ET: Everyone was rubbing their eyes on Centre Court for a moment. Serena was the one double-faulting at 30-30 and Dementieva was routinely getting the first strike on the return.
Serena had to paint the lines to win that game and draw even at 4-4, and Dementieva is just refusing to crack -- she's just held a tight game to go up 5-4. Serena now serves to stay in the match.
9:36 a.m. ET: Don't look now, but Dementieva has just broken back to love and fended off break point on her own serve to go up 4-3.
Her confidence is really rising -- she even hit a second serve service winner in that last game. The prospect of a monumental upset mounts.
9:31 a.m. ET: Casting an eye around the grounds, the other famous siblings of American tennis are in action. The Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike) are up a set against big bombers Wesley Moodie and Dick "Still Not Retired" Norman.
Mike has his right knee taped (as Venus also has in this tournament). And yes, I did figure out it was Mike just by looking -- one of my esoteric skills is being able to tell the twins apart a court's length away, even when they're in plain clothing.
The trainer has just come out to adjust Mike's strapping a bit.
9:19 a.m. ET: As you might expect, Serena is roaring back like a tigress. There's no mercy on any shot now -- just all-out aggression on every ball. She leads 2-1 with a break.
9:13 a.m. ET: Another solid service game from Dementieva sent the first set to a tiebreaker.
I've just covered a sheet of paper with notes about the breaker, but amid the illegible scrawls I can tell you that it was a terrific and close-fought contest. The crux was two great returns from Dementieva from 3-3 onwards, with Serena's mistakes on those two points straddling the grey area between forced and unforced errors.
Inevitably, Dementieva double-faulted on set point at 6-3, but managed to get her second delivery in on the next point. Serena, going for a winner on the return, sent her forehand return wide.
So Dementieva finally cracks Serena, and Serena cracks her racket. Now things are really interesting – on to the second set.
8:54 a.m. ET: An easy hold for Dementieva -- didn't think I'd be writing those words too often -- and the fact that it comes at a critical stage of the match says a lot about her head, too. Good variety on the serve, no sign of nerves, and it's clear she's giving herself a chance in this match even if not many others are.
As usual, by the time I've finished typing this, Serena has held, and now it's Dementieva serving to stay in the set again at 5-6. The match is 39 minutes old.
8:49 a.m. ET: Serena had a terrific chance in that last game, holding three break points for an opportunity to serve for the set. But Dementieva is one of the very few players who can hang in baseline rallies with Serena long enough to have a chance to eventually turn them to her advantage. The Russian pulls off a big hold to make it 4-4.
But Serena holds as well, and now ED is under pressure, serving to stay in the set.
8:40 a.m. ET: Another ace for Dementieva in the middle of this game, and she holds to even the first set at 3-3. Because many women tend to be stronger returners than servers, when there's a match between two weak servers, we often joke that it's all about "holding your return."
Of course, this match isn't between two weak servers but a strong server (Serena) and a weak server (Dementieva). It's going to be a challenge for the Russian to hold either her serve or her return, and that's why it's hard to see her ultimately winning this match.
Right on cue, Serena posts her fourth ace and is up 4-3. Now, can she "hold her return"?
8:34 a.m. ET: Some of you might remember last year's Wimbledon controversy involving Dementieva and the Williamses -- after losing to Venus in the semifinals, Dementieva said the outcome of the all-Williams final would be a "family decision," suggesting that she believed the fix was in.
That comment had a bit of deja vu to it. After losing a quarterfinal to Venus at Indian Wells in 2001, Dementieva said she thought dad Richard Williams would "decide who's going to win" the semifinal between the sisters.
That provided the sparks for the firestorm that followed, when Venus pulled out of the match, sending Serena through to the final.
Dementieva did retract last year's comments in a statement, and I don't think she'll be saying much after this match if Serena goes through. Still, the history might give Serena a little extra motivation in this match.
8:24 a.m. ET: Oh my! An ace from Dementieva in her first serve game. Don't laugh -- it's her 14th of the tournament. That once-pathetic serve is now quite serviceable, though still far from a weapon.
Still not enough, though, as Serena breaks right back and then holds easily to make it 2-1.
8:12 a.m. ET: Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva have just started the first of the women's semifinals on Centre Court. It's another hot day, with temperatures around the 30 degrees Celsius mark (86 degrees Fahrenheit), which means the court should be playing pretty quick and the bounce should be more like a hard court. That probably favors Serena, who won their semifinal meeting at the Australian Open earlier this year.
Before that, however, Dementieva had won their three previous meetings. The Russian is off to a good start here, breaking Serena's serve to go up 1-0. Now comes the hard part -- holding her own serve.
6 a.m. ET: Thursday is women's semifinal day at the All England Club. Will either of the two major underdogs, Dinara Safina or Elena Dementieva, upset one of the Williams sisters? Will both score the upset?
Here's the schedule of play:
Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs. Serena Williams (USA)
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
See you at 8 a.m.
Keep those e-mails coming (firstname.lastname@example.org), as I also will be answering your questions and comments throughout the day.