Polite applause gave way to full-fledged cheers as Svetlana Kuznetsova converted the Flushing Meadows crowd with her powerful strokes in the U.S. Open women's final on Saturday night.
Starting their warmups to the strains of "Back in the U.S.S.R.," Kuznetsova and fellow Russian Elena Dementieva took to Arthur Ashe Stadium court under the lights to determine which young phenom would take the third straight Grand Slam for their country.
And, in just 1 hour 14 minutes, the 19-year-old braces-bedecked Kuznetsova left no doubt that she belonged in the company of fellow Russian major champions Anastasia Myskina and Maria Sharapova.
Smoking forehands all over the court, No. 9 Kuznetsova dominated a drained Dementieva to capture her first Grand Slam title, 6-3, 7-5.
"If I play my game, I just have good tennis," Kuznetsova said, bubbling over after the match. "I knew if I do my game, I don't rush, I don't get nervous, I'm just gonna win it, you know."
Hardly able to contain her excitement at the victory, the teenager emitted a never-ending stream of words and stories, flowing freely despite her protests that she is far from comfortable speaking English.
The winner of three career singles titles prior to her Open victory, Kuznetsova didn't seem to know exactly how to react after her final service winner just nicked Dementieva's racket.
In a game almost entirely played from beyond the baseline, screaming groundstrokes made all of the difference between the U.S. Open champion and the runner-up.
"She has a powerful game," Dementieva said. "I was trying to do something different because she has a great return. You know, she put a lot of pressure on my serve. She was, you know, taking her serve very easily today."
Dementieva seemed to have little left after a marathon win over Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals on Friday, while Kuznetsova's freshness was apparent in the force with which she sent shots back at her countrywoman.
Kuznetsova slammed 23 forehand winners while her rival could manage just seven total winners in the match.
The final marked the second time two Russians have met this year to decide the winner of a Grand Slam title. Dementieva was also a part of the first occasion, losing to Myskina in the French Open. Sharapova captured the country's second major victory this year, taking the Wimbledon title over Serena Williams.
Using her rocket of a forehand, Kuznetsova kept Dementieva off-balance throughout the match. With a heavy-looking bandage covering most of her upper left thigh because of a muscle strain, Dementieva seemed just a beat slow and had difficulty catching up to the wicked groundstrokes.
But the most questionable part of Dementieva's game, her serve, held through the first set. Dementieva's first double fault didn't come until she was up a break in the second.
Yet Kuznetsova, Martina Navratilova's former doubles partner, departed from the strategy used by Capriati in her semifinal loss to Dementieva. By attacking her opponent's weak serve, Kuznetsova kept up the pressure throughout the match, leading to Dementieva's 15 unforced errors.
"It's all about my serve," Dementieva said. "I mean, I really need to have a better serve to win a Grand Slam, you know."
As soon as Dementieva got two of her three break points -- she was perfect on break chances in the match -- Kuznetsova immediately broke back, once on a double fault by Dementieva.
"I know I can break her pretty easy," Kuznetsova said. "Sometimes it's even easy to broke her than to keep my serve because she has very good returns."
Between the pressure by Kuznetsova and Dementieva's injury, the sixth-seeded player didn't ultimately stand a chance, succumbing in less time than it took her to win the third set from Capriati on Friday.
During the trophy presentation, both players brought the focus back to lives lost during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and at a school in Beslam, Russia -- for which both players wore black ribbons throughout the tournament. The match began after a tribute to the victims of both, including a rendition of the national anthem by Jessye Norman.
After the match, during her on-court interview, Dementieva asked for a second moment of silence to commemorate the events, praising the fight against terrorism. Kuznetsova also dedicated her victory to the terror victims.
"It's a great day to be a tennis player, but also a day to remember," Dementieva said.