Russian women to battle for gold, Djokovic claims Serbian bronze

Society Materials 16 August 2008 23:27 (UTC +04:00)

Nonstop Dinara Safina and Russian compatriot Elena Dementieva will square off for the Beijing Olympic gold medal after both rolled through in straights sets on Saturday, dpa reported.

Safin won her 15th straight match as she defeated the only Chinese woman in history to get this far at the Games, Li Na, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.

The number six Russian will take a 5-2 record - including three victories in 2008 - into her gold medal match with Dementieva, who put out countrywoman Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Novak Djokovic lifted Serbia's first-ever tennis medal as he won bronze at the expense of James Blake, beating the American who put out Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in their playoff match.

The men's singles gold medal match will wrap up the event, with Rafael Nadal facing Chile's Fernando Gonzalez on Sunday.

Zvonareva has shown huge dedication after only coming into the Russian fold when Maria Sharapova was unable to play due to a shoulder injury. Demeitieva, silver medallist in Sydney eight years ago, called the Beijing showing "a huge moment for our country."

Safin played through fatigue in an Olympic schedule compromised by rain during the week. She had a mere 12 hours between a losing doubles match which finished at almost 4 am and taking to the court for the singles challenge later on Saturday.

"I had to play three matches in less than 24 hours," she complained. "I was angry a bout that, but I focused it all on the court. I knew that the crowd would be against me.

"But it because for me it doesn't matter," she said after beating the Chinese.