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Veterans of the tour are back on track

original article published at http://betting.betfair.com

2008 has only just begun but three veterans of the tour have returned with a vengeance, writes Scott Ferguson.

Elena Dementieva dropped out of the year-end top 10 for the first time in five years, and didn't progress to the final eight in any Grand Slam. Probably sick of the ridicule from fans about her super-lame serve, she has worked hard on it over the past few months. Opponents now face a faster, more varied serve which can finally win free points for the 26yo Muscovite. The previous model, a one-dimensional slice which did little more than start a point, often broke down under pressure, to the extent that Elena was better off receiving than serving.

Dementieva's groundstrokes are as good as anyone's in the women's game. The fact she has been able to reach two Grand Slam finals and be ranked in the top five with a schoolgirl serve is a remarkable achievement. Potentially, she can kick on to seriously contest the major tournaments consistently, but the real question is how will the new service action hold up under pressure? In front of her home crowd at the Kremlin Open in October, she defeated Azarenka, Safina and Serena Williams along the way to the title, all heavy-hitters ruthlessly looking to punish weak second serves. One tournament however, especially on home soil, is not a big enough sample to measure the progress the revisions to her service action have made.

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