Sydney, Australia (Sports Network) - Elena Dementieva of Russia captured the Sydney International title for a second consecutive year with a straight-set victory over world No. 1 Serena Williams on Friday.
The fifth-seeded Dementieva earned a 6-3, 6-2 triumph for her 15th career WTA singles title and first of 2010. She beat fellow Russian Dinara Safina for this title last January.
Dementieva is off to a second straight strong early-season start, as last year she parlayed wins in Auckland and Sydney into a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open. She beat Williams in the Sydney semis last year before losing to the American in Melbourne.
Williams, who went on to capture the Australian Open crown last year, also beat Dementieva in the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2009 on her way to that title. The two played five matches last year, with Williams winning three times. Another scheduled match in the Paris semis went to Dementieva in a walkover.
On Friday, Williams appeared to struggle with a sore left knee and committed 40 unforced errors in the 75-minute match. She had just two break-point chances and converted once, while having her own serve broken five times.
"I was struggling a little bit, but I hate to make any excuse," said Williams. "I think she definitely deserves all the credit for what she did."
Dementieva earned a first prize of $98,500 and improved to 5-7 all-time against Williams.
The two are in opposite halves of the Australian Open draw, as play begins in Melbourne on Monday.
Williams, the top seed, will open defense of her Aussie Open title against Poland's Urszula Radwanska.
Dementieva is the fifth seed and has a tough first-round match against fellow Russian Vera Dushevina. Should Dementieva win, she could face former world No. 1 Justine Henin of Belgium in the second round.