Elena Dementieva finished with a flourish on Friday, breaking struggling Serena Williams to love in the final game to post a 6-3, 6-2 victory and earn a second straight women’s title at the Medibank International.
Williams, who won the Australian Open four times but had never been past the last-four stage at the Sydney run-up, ran out of luck a day after a comeback win, which put her into the title match.
Dementieva played last week at the Hopman Cup in Perth instead of defending a WTA title but bounced straight back into championships form with her dispatch of the top-seeded American.
Williams lost serve five times while Dementiva was broken once in just 75 minutes on the way to her 15th career trophy.
On the men’s side, Marcos Baghdatis battled for nearly three hours to set up a final between comeback players.
The Cypriot who played the 2006 Australian Open final and then went into an injury tailspin, which only ended in 2009, overcame 16 aces from American Mardy Fish in a nail biting 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-5) semi-final decision.
“There was a bit of pressure, I had to stay concentrated,” said Baghdatis. I had some moments where I lost my concentration, but the most important thing is that I won the match.
“I’m playing a final tomorrow, so that’s pretty positive. It’s nice coming at the beginning of year, playing finals and having a chance to win another title.” The unseeded number 42 will Saturday face Richard Gasquet, who beat Julien Benneteau 6-4, 7-5 in an all-French semi.
Baghdatis won his last event of 2009, taking a title at Stockholm and has heads into the Open on rapidly improving form. He will be bidding for a fourth career trophy.
Gasquet, 53rd, is also making a return after beating a positive drug test in 2009 for trace amounts of cocaine, which he proved was picked up by kissing a girl in a Miami nightclub last March.
The former French prodigy said that after his legal ordeal which ended up in the world sports arbitration court in Switzerland, he is just glad to be back in the game.
“I’m really happy because I won. It wasn’t a great match, not an incredible level,” said the 23-year-old, bidding for a first title since Mumbai in autumn, 2007.
“I was a little bit tired in the second set, but I tried to play.
I was a little bit lucky.
“I saved three set points on my serve after I broke him, so I played well the big points. The really important points I played better than him.” Gasquet added: “It’s tough to come back, I stopped some months.
“It’s hard in the head, so it was really tiring, more tiring than to play one hundred matches for sure.
“But I don’t care. Now I want to play just for fun. That’s why I’m here, I’m enjoying the matches.”