Shocked Serena eliminated

Serena Williams returns during the Rogers Cup Semi-Final match between Serena Williams and Elena...

Serena Williams returns during the Rogers Cup Semi-Final match between Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva at the Rexall Centre on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009. (Dave Abel/Sun Media).

Steve Simmons, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

TORONTO —- Serena Williams gave an uninspired and placating wave to the fans at the Rexall Centre before quietly walking away.

It was almost as though she was embarrassed by her performance yesterday — or simply didn’t care — and it certainly wasn’t the kind of tennis the fans at the Rogers Cup Canadian Open might have expected from a player of such prominence.

But, sadly, with the Williams sisters, away from the excitement of Grand Slam tournaments, you never quite know what you’re going to end up with and Saturday, the crowd at the Rexall Centre deserved better than it got.

Clearly the crowd favourite, Williams was eliminated rather tamely in the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup, essentially defeating herself on a cool and cloudy afternoon that did little to inspire anyone.

This is how it is with Serena. When she wins, it’s because she is athletically superior or simply more powerful than just about everybody she plays. When she loses — and badly losing 7-6 (2), 6-1 to the hard-working Elena Dementieva — it’s because she’s either disinterested once the match becomes challenging, or worse, disrespectful to the paying public.

Serving with a 5-3 lead in the first set, and looking to be in complete control, Williams basically lost her focus and the match, in no particular order. She lost her next three service games, lost all first points on her serve in a one-sided losing tiebreaker, and showed gumption only when the moment captured her on an otherwise dreary defeat.

“I don’t think I had too many service problems,” Williams said afterwards, clearly not paying attention.

On serve, she lost the game that would have given her the first set.

On serve, she lost the game that would have given her a 6-5 lead in the first set.

On serve, she lost five straight points in the tie-breaker, including double-faulting to go behind 6-2.

On serve, she lost two of her three service games in the final set.

“I didn’t look into the stats. I don’t really remember,” said Williams, who has won 11 more Grand Slam championships in singles than her opponent, who has yet to win her first.

Holding serve wasn’t Serena’s only problem Saturday. Making noise was difficult as well, she admitted. She was grunting in the second set, just not much in the first. She was grunting on some points, just not all of them.

“I usually always grunt,” said Williams. “But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t grunting today. I don’t know. It was no reason in particular. I did notice in the first set that I wasn’t grunting and it was just kind of weird. It was like, hmm.”

Kind of like the match. One other sign that Williams didn’t particularly care that her tournament was over: She met the press five minutes after the defeat. Normally, a tennis player waits upwards of an hour before answering the perfunctory questions. Maybe she had reservations she needed to make.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca


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