SPORTS

A fast rise up the tennis ranks

Eleni Daniilidou became the first Greek tennis player to win a professional tournament by upsetting fourth seed Elena Dementieva 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the grass court Ordina Open in Den Bosch, the Netherlands, on Saturday. «It was my first dream to win a WTA Tour singles title, so today I am so happy,» the 19-year-old said after her 105-minute victory. «At the start of this week I didn’t think I could win this tournament. It was a tough draw, but after I beat Amelie (Mauresmo) in the quarterfinals I started to get more confident.» In front of a packed 7,500 crowd at the Rosmalen Autotron she overhauled a 3-1 deficit in the final set against Dementieva, breaking twice and winning the final five games. The victory completes a superb week for Daniilidou who had never before reached a Women’s Tennis Association final. In her last three matches, she defeated France’s Mauresmo, ranked 11th in the world, Belgium’s Justine Henin, ranked seventh, and Dementieva, ranked 14th. She saved six match points in her semifinal victory over Henin. Her victory in the tournament has catapulted Daniilidou from 51st to 38th place in WTA rankings. She began the year in 84th place, having risen from 320th at the start of 2001. «Today Eleni was too good,» said Dementieva, adding that grass was not her favorite surface. A Thessaloniki native, Daniilidou took up tennis at the relatively late age of 9. She had enjoyed playing soccer and basketball until then. Years spent on the junior and satellite circuits were laden with success, highlighted by a No. 7 junior world ranking in 1999 and eight ITF Women’s Circuit singles titles. According to a WTA report, «her explosive game, powered by heavy groundstrokes and a thunderous serve, is similar to that of Australian player Mark Philippoussis.» (Combined reports)