No future in fortune-telling for Dementieva
Jun 16, 10:02 pm EDT
By Clare Fallon
EASTBOURNE, England, June 17 (Reuters) - Elena Dementieva raised eyebrows in Paris last month when she predicted a fall for Rafael Nadal the day before the clay king was dethroned, but the Russian is not planning on swapping her racket for a crystal ball just yet.
Dementieva’s insightful prediction of the world number one’s premature demise was pretty much the only high point for the 27-year-old Olympic champion at Roland Garros after a third-round defeat by Australia’s Sam Stosur.
The elegant Muscovite saw a world-weariness in the previously unbeatable Nadal that practically no-one else spotted, and journalists’ eyes rolled when she made her claim that his days as Paris champion were numbered.
But a day later the four-times Spanish champion was knocked out in the fourth round by Swede Robin Soderling in one of the biggest shocks ever seen at the French Open and Dementieva won bragging rights for weeks to come.
“It was so strange because he was winning, first round, second round, but when I was watching him I didn’t see happiness in his eyes when he had finished a match
,” Dementieva told Reuters in an interview at the Wimbledon tune-up event at Eastbourne.
“I was thinking he must be so tired, playing so many matches. It’s very physical the way he’s playing. I didn’t want him to lose.
“I think he’s a very nice guy and he was desperately looking for this title but when it’s enough, it’s enough. He needs to have a break
So could she predict who would win the men’s title at Wimbledon?
The Russian laughed. “Don’t ask me. That was the only time I was right
Losing unexpectedly early in Paris could turn out to be a blessing in disguise though for Dementieva, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year.
Many players complain that there is too little time to adjust from the slow, red clay of Roland Garros to the fast, green grass of Wimbledon with two weeks between the two grand slams.
The trick, Dementieva feels, is not to get too anxious about making the switch.
“I think it’s such a short period of time when it comes to the grass so you have to be very positive,” she said in an interview arranged by WTA Tour sponsors Sony Ericsson.
“It is an unpredictable surface. You have to enjoy it… like I did last time when I was playing Wimbledon, I really enjoy my time there and I was trying just to be focused on my game and trying to do as well as I could and trying not to get crazy with the bounces and so on.”
Dementieva’s sense of enjoyment came through as she sailed into the semi-finals at last year’s Wimbledon, before losing to eventual champion Venus Williams.
“I don’t want to think about my chances,” she said after winning her first match of the year on grass at the Eastbourne International.
“I know it is going to be a tough challenge. I know everyone is ready and it’s going to be a tough battle from the beginning so I just want to take one match at a time and get my focus.”
She is looking forward to the next fortnight. “It is one of the very special events for all the players, absolutely unique atmosphere,” she said of Wimbledon.
“I think the crowd makes it very special every time we come there. You can see such long lines of people trying to get into the stadium and you realise just how special it is for everyone.
“It’s a great social event and it’s where we smell the history as a player and it is just an honour to play there.”
Does she have a prediction for this year?
“I would say that Venus Williams is definitely the favourite to win the title. She won it five times already and she is looking for another one and she really looks very strong when it comes to Wimbledon
You can almost hear the bookmakers running for cover.