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Keothavong quick to serve warning after US Open run

PUBLISHED: 15:57 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 07 September 2010

Cumberland s Anne Keothavong gave Olympic champion Elena Dementieva a scare before bowing out 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the US Open at Flushing Meadow last week. After losing the first set, 24-year-old Keothavong broke serve to lead 4-3 in the secon

Cumberland's Anne Keothavong gave Olympic champion Elena Dementieva a scare before bowing out 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the US Open at Flushing Meadow last week.

After losing the first set, 24-year-old Keothavong broke serve to lead 4-3 in the second but she could not hang on and was broken straight back.

Serving to stay in the match at 4-5, the British No.1 double-faulted to give the Russian three match points. And the fifth seed took it on the third with a backhand down the line.

Yet, Keothavong felt she had failed to take her opportunities. "I'm obviously disappointed," she said. "I felt I had opportunities, and I hit too many errors on routine shots. I just feel like I could have done a better job."

Despite the defeat, Keothavong is set to move into the world's top 70 - the first British woman to do so since Sam Smith in 1999.

And the Briton said her performances in New York had given her belief that she could break into the top 50.

"Dementieva was a lot more consistent than I was today," said Keothavong. "She's a lot more experienced in these kinds of situation. But definitely I can compete with these girls. I don't think the gaps are as big as I once thought. I know what I need to work on. I can go back home now and just get stuck in.

"I feel like I can climb the rankings. The next stage for me is to break into the top 50. That's the next goal."

Keothavong's bid to become the first British woman to reach the fourth round since Jo Durie in 1991 began nervously.

The Londoner lost her opening service game to the hard-hitting Russian but answered immediately by breaking back.

An astute line call challenge swung the momentum back in Dementieva's favour, the Olympic champion winning the replayed point to break for a 2-1 lead.

Keothavong refused to lose heart and continued to take her attacking game to Dementieva but, with the Russian pummelling down her new-found accurate serve, the Briton could not carve out another break point.

It was Dementieva who broke again with an array of powerful groundstrokes to wrap up the set.

Keothavong came out fighting at the start of the second, earning five break points in Dementieva's first service game, but failing to convert any of them.

The British No.1 appeared to tire by the fourth game and, with the errors creeping in, handed Dementieva the break with a double fault.

But after verbally pumping herself up, Keothavong produced a spell of her most ruthless tennis of the match, breaking straight back at 3-2 before firing down three clean, cross-court winners to take a 4-3 lead. The Briton's advantage, however, was short-lived.

Dementieva admitted she had been surprised by the quality of Keothavong's play. "She played really well, especially in the beginning of the match," she said. "She really went there, and she's not afraid to hit the ball pretty hard. She's probably the best British player that I ever played.

"She has a very good potential, she's very aggressive, and she has a good serve. The whole game is pretty good. I think it's just a matter of experience."

pat.mooney@hamhigh.co.uk

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