- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) | Serving for a place in the Wimbledon semifinals at 6-1, 5-1, Elena Dementieva wobbled.

This time, she managed to recover.

The fifth-seeded Russian squandered her commanding lead Tuesday against Nadia Petrova, dropping five straight games and losing a tiebreaker at Centre Court.

Dementieva’s thought at the moment? “Oops, I did it again,” she said.

At the French Open against Dinara Safina, Dementieva was ahead by a set and up 5-2 before losing the tiebreaker and then the match in the third set.

Dementieva regained her stride against Petrova and pulled out a 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal.

“I took some time [after the second set] to change my dress,” she said. “I really want to win this match because I don’t want to have this experience again. Somehow I just found a way to stay strong and positive.”

Dementieva cruised to a 5-1 lead in the second set and, just as she was preparing for a quick escape from the searing temperatures, she paid for the errors and double faults that littered her game.

Dementieva came back strong and raced to a 4-0 lead in the third. She knows there will be no room for error in the semis against defending champion Venus Williams.

“It’s all pressure on her. I really have nothing to lose,” she said. “All I need is just to have a day off to recover, just to play my game, just to enjoy the moment.”

The heat is on

The 93-degree heat at Centre Court took its toll as 50 spectators fainted.

“People don’t like to leave the tennis when a good match is going on, but they should make sure they’ve got enough water to drink,” St. John Ambulance official Mike Gibbons said. “Both young and old were affected, and we helped people in difficulties on a number of different courts.”

Defending champion Venus Williams said she had never played with the sun in her eyes during her 11 previous visits.

“The challenge this year has been the sun,” she said after sweeping past Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-3. “I’ve never had to serve in the sun at this tournament. I’ve played every day at noon or 1 o’clock, and it’s always cloudy.

“I can’t see the ball after I serve - it’s pretty interesting.”

Elena Dementieva, who ousted Nadia Petrova, wasn’t prepared for such a grueling and draining encounter.

“Nobody put sunblock, and nobody had the ice. I mean, we didn’t have an ice pack in the beginning of the match because, I mean, it doesn’t feel like Wimbledon at all,” she said.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quick to bask in the glory of fellow Scot Andy Murray, who came back from two sets down to oust Richard Gasquet in near-darkness Monday night to reach the quarterfinals of Grand Slam for the first time.

“I don’t know if you saw him at Wimbledon; it was an amazing victory,” Brown told a group of school children in London.

Brown acknowledged his own shortcomings on the tennis court.

“I played a lot of tennis, for example, but I never really got taught properly how to swing the racket,” he said. “So I could serve well, but I could never be like Andy Murray was last night.”

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