Eager Dementieva ready for return from calf injury

By Matthew Cronin

Dementieva, the second seed at this week's tournament, has a first-round bye and will face the winner of the match between fellow Russian Dinara Safina and Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm.

The 28-year-old Dementieva suffered a calf injury at the French Open that forced her to pull out of a semi-final match against eventual champion Francesca Schiavone and take four weeks off to recover.

"I didn't watch because I was too disappointed I wasn't there," she told reporters. "I didn't want to know who won."

Despite playing a grinding schedule for the past 11 years, the 28-year-old Dementieva had not missed a grand slam she had qualified for until this year.

Considered by some the best women's player not to have won a grand slam, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist said that despite her age she remains just as competitive as when she advanced to her first grand slam semi-final as a teenager in 2000.

"It's never easy to lose," said Dementieva. "I love to play and win and it's always disappointing to lose. Maybe I'm taking a little easier now, but it doesn't mean that I don't care."

Dementieva is hoping to regain her form in time for the U.S. Open, which starts August 30. She reached the U.S. Open final in 2004 but lost to compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.

While the calf injury disrupted Dementieva's rhythm, she believes that it also had a positive side.

"It was a good time to get a break and get ready for hard court season," she said. "In the end, I really needed some time off to get hungry for the competition."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)