Safina upsets Dementieva, reaches French Open semifinals

June 4th, 2008 - 11:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, June 4 (DPA) Dinara Safina polished her escape routine as she rallied from the brink Wednesday, saving a match point in a 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 upset of 2004 finalist Elena Dementieva at the French Open. The comeback kid, who also trailed a set in her previous match, will face experienced fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals.

The Russian kept her hopes of reaching the number one ranking alive as she beat the first-ever Estonian quarter-finalist at a Grand Slam, Kaia Kanepi, 7-5, 6-2.

The winners have less than 24 hours to recover, returning Thursday for a semi-final. Serbs Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic square off in the second semifinal.

Safina, sister of men’s former number one Marat Safin, trailed a set and 5-2 when she suddenly put a new desperation strategy into place which earned her a fighting victory in two hours, 45 minutes over Dementieva.

“I can change my game completely and I did that at 5-2,” said last month’s Berlin champion. “I started giving her the extra ball and I think she got confused.

“I made her try to hit winners to beat me.”

Dementieva twice failed to serve out the match in the second set as Safina salvaged a match point in the 10th game for 5-5. The 13th seed took it into a tiebreaker, where she forced a third set against the stunned Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist.

“She had a match point and I was one step away form losing,” said Safina, whose racket bounces and pained expressions often brought back memories of her big brother.

“But tomorrow I’m coming back and I’m very happy,” Safina said.

Kuznetsova is engaged in a three-way battle with Ivanovic and Jankovic to try and unseat Maria Sharapova from the top WTA spot.

Kuznetsova, the 2006 losing Paris finalist to now retired Justine Henin, fired 16 winners in the 90-minute contest, breaking the 49th ranked player from the Baltic.

Kanepi led 4-2 in the opening set before the fourth seed put her experience to work to finally claim the opener with a break in the 11th game.

She repeated in the third game of the second set on the way to victory.

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