Dementieva one of the favourites at Australian Open

January 17th, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 17 (IANS) Russian Elena Dementieva will head to the Australian Open as one of the favourites for the women’s singles title after a streak of recent wins.Dementieva claimed the Sydney International title with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 win over countrywoman Dinara Safina Friday to add to her Auckland Classic title last week, marking the world No.4 as the woman to watch at Melbourne Park.

The 27-year-old has lost just one set in her last 10 matches and has won three of the last four tournaments she’s played.

Her challenge now is to add a grand slam trophy to her cabinet - something she’s failed to do over 10 years and 40 majors.

Dementieva said she would enjoy the challenge despite the focus being squarely on her in Melbourne.

“This is great, to have all this pressure after winning two titles,” she was quoted as saying in The Daily Telegraph.

“Would it be better if I am just going to lose first round and play without pressure in Australia - no. It’s great to have all these matches played here and in Auckland and coming to Australia with the pressure, I love it.”

Despite the loss, it was also an impressive lead-up for Safina who hadn’t lost a set in Sydney until Friday night.

She rose from No.15 to No.3 in the rankings in a stellar 2008 and, like her compatriot, about the only thing she has not won is a grand slam.

In Melbourne, as in any grand slam, players won’t have the luxury of coaching between sets, something Safina won’t actually mind.

“I will have to use much more my own brain. It’s not actually good that every time I need somebody else to come on the court to tell me what I am doing right or wrong.

“You have to be strong enough as a player, especially when you are number three in the world.”

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