Publish date:

The Annadote

They were born in the same year (1981) in the same city (Moscow)
and have the same traffic-stopping looks of a Bond girl, but
that's where the similarities between Anna Kournikova and Elena
Dementieva end. While Kournikova attracts a media scrum
traditionally reserved for movie stars, Dementieva's climb up the
WTA ladder has barely registered outside the tennis world. All of
600 people were on hand at Court 10 last Saturday for
Dementieva's third-round upset of No. 7 Conchita Martinez, which
concluded moments after Kournikova marched into a crowded Arthur
Ashe Stadium to face Justine Henin. By the end of the day, a
long-legged Russian blonde had advanced to the fourth round--but
she wasn't Kournikova. On Monday the No. 25-ranked Dementieva
reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 win over Lilia
Osterloh of the U.S.

Primarily a baseliner, Dementieva hits with power from both
sides. She started playing as a seven-year-old, at the Spartak
Club in Moscow, where she was tutored by Rausa Islanova, the
mother of Russian star Marat Safin. Dementieva turned pro in 1998
and reached her first Tier 1 semifinal this March at Indian
Wells, falling to the eventual champion, Lindsay Davenport.

Elena, who resides in Moscow with her father, Viatcheslav, an
electrical engineer, and mother, Vera, who taught graphic arts
at a university before quitting to accompany her daughter on
tour, says she's fascinated by chess and plays often against her
older brother, Sevia. "I would like to play tennis like a
queen," she says, "but right now I am a queen without a great

The budding Kasparov needn't worry. Last week was merely her
opening move.

--Richard Deitsch

COLOR PHOTO: CARYN LEVY Dementieva got less ink but more wins than Kournikova in Week 1 of the Open.