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Dementieva joins Russian parade

ELENA Dementieva overcame an attack of nerves to beat local hope Samantha Stosur 7-6 (6), 6-4 yesterday and joined five other Russian women in the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The world No. 4 clawed back from 2-5 down to clinch the opening set in a tiebreak then battled through the second before sealing victory.

Dementieva dropped her opening service game at the start of the second then failed to serve out the match but wrapped it up when Stosur was unable to hold her serve.

"My return today was much better than my serve," said Dementieva, who will take on Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova next.

"I was nervous to play against her. I'm sure she feels very comfortable playing on this court with the crowd support. It was not easy for me.

"It was a tough match. I'm just glad I was able to win the first set and finish it in two sets."

Stosur looked to have the first set sewn up when she raced to a 5-2 lead before she also succumbed to nerves, racking up 26 unforced errors in the first set.

The Australian failed to convert four match points against Serena Williams in Sydney last week and said she had no explanation as to why she was unable to finish off her higher-ranked opponents. "I think it's just probably a matter of when I get in those situations believing that I can do it," she said.

"I've won five games, why don't I win six, no matter who the opponent? I think maybe it's a bit of concentration."

Although she has never won a grand slam, Dementieva has emerged as one of the favorites to win in Melbourne after taking the Olympic title in Beijing.

She has also enjoyed an incredible start to the 2009 season. The 27-year-old won lead-up events in Auckland and Sydney and yesterday's win was her 13th straight this year.

It was not her best performance but the fourth seed said the only thing that mattered was the result. "It's impossible to be satisfied with the way you're playing every single day, especially when you're playing three tournaments in a row.

"There's gonna be some bad days and some days of, let's call, 'survivor days'. The most important is to go through."

The only Russian woman to win the Australian Open singles title was Maria Sharapova, who was crowned 2008 champion but is not defending her title.

If numbers are anything to go by, the Russians will be a force to reckon with. Dinara Safina, Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Alisa Kleybanova and Svetlana Kuznetsova all joined Dementieva in the last 16.


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