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Dementieva sees off Safina for Sydney title

ELENA Dementieva beat fellow Russian Dinara Safina 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the final of the Sydney International yesterday to complete a perfect build-up to next week's Australian Open.

Dementieva followed up her victory in last week's Auckland Classic to capture her second title this year and extend her unbeaten run to 10 matches this season.

She will now arrive in Melbourne as one of the favorites.

"I was hoping for a good start but I couldn't imagine I was going to win two titles," Dementieva said.

Safina, ranked one place ahead of Dementieva at No. 3 in the world, has now lost her last three matches to her older compatriot, including last year's Olympic singles final in Beijing, but said she only had herself to blame.

"It's not that she killed me and destroyed me... it's just that I didn't use my shots," Safina said.

"But I can take lots of positives. I reached the final, last year I lost in the first round, and I played well in the second set.

"I'm going (to Melbourne) as a different player, not just a tourist."

Dementieva, 27, took control of the final from the outset, handling the blustery conditions at Sydney's Olympic tennis centre much better than Safina.

Dementieva, who upset Serena Williams in the semifinals, broke Safina's serve twice to wrap up the opening set in 43 minutes.

Safina recovered to win the second set after cutting down on her errors following an animated pep talk with her Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan but lost her way in the deciding third set.

"He just told me to be much more aggressive and if I don't do it, I'm stupid," Safina said.

"I did this in the second set and then I run away from my game (in the third set). So, that means that I'm stupid."

Dementieva regained her focus in the deciding second set and was ready to carry her form into Melbourne Park, where she will be looking to win her first grand slam title.

"This is great to have all this pressure after winning two titles," Dementieva said.

"It's great to have all these matches played here in and Auckland. Coming to Australia with all the pressure, I enjoy it, I really do."

In the men's semifinals, Novak Djokovic lost 6-4, 7-6 (3) to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, missing another chance to move to a career-high No. 2 ranking.

The 21-year-old Serbian needed to reach the Sydney final to overhaul Roger Federer at No. 2 in the rankings.

Nieminen next faces Argentina's David Nalbandian, who reached his 20th ATP Tour final with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Richard Gasquet.

Elsewhere, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic made her first WTA final a winning one, beating compatriot Iveta Benesova 7-5, 6-1 at the Hobart International.


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