Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Safina: It's a Process
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Safina: It's a Process 07/27/2009 - 2:19 PM

89264551  by Pete Bodo

There must be a higher purpose in Dinara Safina's life than serving as part of Serena Williams's fitness regimen (Safina has been her heavy bag, to borrow from the sweet science), or the object of scorn and derision that might be better directed at the WTA computer-ranking system. For as most of you know, and Safina is never allowed to forget, she earned the No. 1 ranking in April without having bagged a Grand Slam title, and she hasn't let it go despite two majors - won by others - having played out in the interim.

You might say that Safina hasn't advanced her own cause by failing to bag any of this year's majors, or enhanced her credibility with the way she lost in them: She was simply crushed by Williams in the Australian Open final, fell prone to anxiety in a severely disappointing loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the championship match in Paris, and Safina was humiliated  by Venus Williams in the semifinals of Wimbledon.You'd think the poor girl can't play, and at times on major occasions that suspicion is abetted by Safina.

On the other hand, the last WTA No. 1 (Jelena Jankovic - surely you remember the name?) blew herself up just minutes after earning the No. 1 ranking; by contrast, Safina is an Amazon-grade warrior. I can think of a few players who wouldn't exactly mind being in her shoes - two Grand Slam finals and a semi in the last three majors.

Safina won again on Sunday, in Portoroz. She beat Sara Errani in a three-set roller coaster ride after losing the first set tiebreaker. After winning, she recited an all-too familiar script: "After losing the first set, I started to play exactly how I had to. But then when I was up 2-0, 30-0 in the third set, suddenly I lost my game. I got tight. That's why it was so complicated. When I won the match it was a relief. I really wanted it. These tough matches give you confidence and I hope with this I can go to the States and play my best tennis there."

Three words Safina should have engraved on her forehead (for our benefit), or on her wrist for her own: It's a process.

That is, taking a place at the top of the game and holding it is a process for anyone not named Williams, or Roger Federer, Chris Evert or John McEnroe. Champions who mature relatively late (think Martina Navratilova, Patrick Rafter, even, in some ways Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Justine Henin) can tell you that unless you're blessed with a combination of extraordinary drive, surpassing talent, and a level head, the key ingredient in becoming a Grand Slam champion is steady nerves - more precisely, the ability to keep your level extremely high while resisting the chorus of critics who suggest that winning a major is one task too many for you to handle.

So the more sanguine way to look at Safina's adventures since the end of 2008 is that she's been "gathering information." And everything we know about Safina, from her earliest days on the tour, suggests that she's had an awful lot of information to gather, beginning with the intelligence on how to emerge from her famous brother Marat's shadow to achieve stardom, while lacking some of the natural advantages he enjoyed. Those advantages include a game that even in proportionate terms is much bigger than Dinara's, a dangerously effective indifference to the so-called "pressure" of expectations, and a type of personal charisma that somehow greases the skids of life.

I mean, it's probably much easier to play second-fiddle to a stud like Marat, while no pony-tailed little hottie can be very pleased to suffer a bludgeoning at the hands of beady-eyed and often downright gawky Dinara. Sometimes those kinds of things count, although they probably shouldn't.

There's a flip side to Safina's poor defense of her No. 1 ranking in those train wrecks dressed up as major finals. She's endured those terrible whippings without spiraling off into deep depression or chucking her racquets into the Thames and entering a nunnery. Something Marat said in a teleconference the other day is pertinent here: "She's really competitive and really tough girl. She wants to crack it down (win a major), it just takes a bit of time."

Time, of course, is the one thing that nobody wants to grant any player who seems to perform below the standard of his or her ranking. This, partly, is what made life so difficult for Jankovic in 2009. The table was set for her personal banquet in Melbourne, but when she showed up - so bent on proving herself a worthy No. 1 that she over-trained - she was so nervous she couldn't lift the fork to her mouth. Over the ensuing months, she got a lot of food of food on her shirt and lap, but she's been no more capable of finding her mouth than an infant in a high chair.

Safina's history has been dramatically different. She's recovered from those notionally devastating losses by holding on to what she has - confidence, drive, attitude and even ranking-wise - as she continues to gather information. This is something that only destined champions seem able to do, and it suggests that despite the momentary, bitter disappointments, her wounds are like those of a teen-ager who mildy mutilates herself out of boredom, or anxiety. This is a common rite of passage, as any reformed Goth princess can tell you.

And as much as the pundits and critics enjoy denigrating a talented or highly ranked player who chokes away significant opportunities (and trust me, it can be an exquisitely pleasurable if downright mean indulgence), a player is only broken by himself. The players who stay the course almost always prevail. And in tennis, staying the course means winning. For winning begets winning. Safina may have struggled in Portoroz against Errani, but she won. Again. Maybe having won despite struggling against the over-gunned Errani, instead of tacking up another routine 2-and-3 win, will be of greater long-term value to Safina.

Patience is an especially handy virtue for someone in Safina's shoes, and she seems to have it. Consistency is another key to long-term success. This she has as well, and it's of a different order of magnitude than the consistency of all those perennial semifinalists and finalists who hover around the upper reaches of the Top 10. Safina wins tournaments consistently, and that neutralizes to some degree the uncomfortable fact that her most formidable rival isn't able to grind the heel of a stiletto into Safina's heart often enough to break her spirit. Safina may never beat Serena, but she's beaten some comparably unnerving demons and goblins and they're always a bigger enemy. One rival at a time.

When Marat was asked if his sister needed to make any major changes, or change her way of thinking in order to bag that elusive first major, he replied: "It's more that it just takes some time. She been unexpected the No. 1 in the world, because not many people really believe that she would become one day, and finally she became. But the next step, maybe she was not really ready for that, now she's been through a few finals and she's more experienced and the next one will be hers. I'm pretty sure sooner or later she gonna make it. Once she gonna crack one down, first one, and then much more will come."

Given Safina's relative youth (she's 23) and the volatile state of the WTA Tour, it's hard to argue with that sober analysis. Marat doesn't even mind the sniping that's gone on, saying of Serena's recent comments:

"It's okay. It's a girls' matter. It's just girls talk. Well, they're two big players. Serena is more experienced and she been on tour much more time. She been out there for much longer time. My sister, she's a new one, basically new No. 1 in the world. The rivalry, the next time they're gonna play, it's gonna be a nice match. Serena, she is a nice girl, but it's her own fault (that she's not No. 1). They are tough actors, and it's what happens. But I think it's good to see that it happens on the tour that they are fighting for No. 1 and giving a little bit of trouble to each other, but without any harm to each other."

In other words, Marat thinks his sister is a big girl, who's capable of taking care of herself. And apart from the hardship Dinara's had clearing the final career hurdle in her path,  Safina's been proving him right.

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Posted by robbyfan 07/27/2009 at 02:24 PM

A most unfortunate picture of her. yikes. She is a cute girl.

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 02:28 PM

"Safina was humiliated - again - by La Serena in the semifinals of Wimbledon"

Do you mean Venus?

Posted by lollipop (bring back the old days) 07/27/2009 at 02:33 PM

Nice post, Pete. But that picture-- a little scary to be honest.

Posted by Pete 07/27/2009 at 02:37 PM

Yes, MA, I did. . . it just doesn't feel right for me not to make at least one dumb error or absurd typo per day! Fixed.

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 02:40 PM

When Marat won the USO in 2000, most people did not expect Pete to lose in the final especially with him coming off his 7th and turned out to be final Wimbledon(and 13th Slam) but Marat won in straight sets. Even though Dinara is number 1, most people expect Serena to win her 3rd Slam in 2009 by defending her USO title in the process. Last person to defend their USO title was Venus Williams in 2001. There is a reason why the USO is the world's toughest tennis and if Dinara win the USO, her win over Sara in Portoroz rallying twice from a break down(4-3 and 5-4) in the final set may be the catalyst.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 07/27/2009 at 02:41 PM

Nice one, Pete. Interesting remarks from the elder Safin.

Imo, Safina needs to learn to get out of her own way. She thinks too much on the court, and as a result, flips in and out of the "zone". Of course, if you flip out of the zone against the Williamsovas, the match will be done and dusted before you say...ova?

On the positive side, she knows that she has mental weaknesses. So, criticism of that aspect from the pundits will probably not get under her skin. That's probably what has kept her from throwing her racquets into the Thames. And, is probably what will keep her going till she gets that first slam.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 07/27/2009 at 02:44 PM

Hey all. *waves*

Nice post - and I like the picture, Dinara looks intimidating and very, very determined. :)

Pete, is the title meant to say Safin, rather than Safina?

Posted by linz 07/27/2009 at 02:44 PM

Great post Pete! I am a huge fan of Dinara, and I think it's important to note that at the beginning of 2008, if someone had told you that Dinara Safina would be even in the running for the #1 ranking in the next year and a half, people would have thought you were crazy. She propelled herself to the top of the women's game very suddenly, and I find it very impressive. I do believe she will win at least one slam in the next year and will continue her remarkable consistency, and I really look forward to watching her do it!

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 07/27/2009 at 02:49 PM

Nice to see a piece from Pete that doesn't take the tennis media's usual "unworthy #1" angle.

Not sure that I agree with the "gathering information" premise, though, as I'm not sure what exactly Dinara learned from running through a weak Potoroz field this week that she didn't already know.

I'd rather she gathered information this week at Stanford. :)

Posted by seaweed 07/27/2009 at 02:50 PM

yes, marat, i agree completely. it is serena's fault that she's not no. 1. it is also not dinara's fault that serena is not no. 1. :) and i also believe that if (a big IF at the moment) dinara will win a major, she will win more than one.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/27/2009 at 02:50 PM

Pete Thanks for insightful remarks about Safina.

Being a long time fan,sometimes I used the adjective "suffering" lol! I have seen a transformation in her.To me it was that s/final at RG 08 against Maria Sharapova.She proved that day when she dosent put undue pressure on herself her game does flow also she did "tough it out".

I spent a lot of time at Sydney Medibank watching her practice,may I say I have never seen her in great physical shape.Indded a imposing athlete indeed.I though 2009 would be the year she would win her first GS title,after making it to the final of RG08,though this year is not over.

She was really only a observer in her final match with Serena at the AO.Then during RG 09 she played to me lights out tennis then got the the final and crumbled.

Being the no 1 player people expect you to have a couple of GS titles already under your belt.Though when I hear Safina talk this dosent seem to faze her at all.

Maybe she like others could be a "late starter" in her career at age 23.She certainly has the game.Even though in her last final which she won,she maybe did win "ugly" but hey soemtimes all the good players win "Ugly" at times.A win is a win afterall.

Well with the hardcourt season already started and the last GS slam title up for grabs,maybe Safina has gathered all the information and ready to put what she learnt in theory on the court.

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 03:00 PM

I think Portoroz was better for Dinara to gather information because if she ran into a Williams Sister at Stanford and lost, her confidence could be shaken for the balance of the USO Series. She may have to play them at Cincinnati and/or Toronto in August so playing last week has its benefits. As Aussiemarg posted, she may have gathered the necessary information and wanted to test it out on the court without having an elite player around and her "ugly" win may be the catalyst of Dinara finally getting that elusive Slam.

Posted by tommy 07/27/2009 at 03:09 PM

I think this is a good situation for the WTA.
Safina is definately the WTA #1. Week in and week out she by far has the best results.
Serena is the ITF #1, she's the best at non clay majors, but she hasn't won a WTA title in well over a year.

No one else is even close in the rankings. The only other player holding a major is Kuznetsova. Safina helped Svetlana get that one.
Safina has to finish off a FO final. Her red clay results have been tremendous the last years, something like 35-1 before the 2 FO finals.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 07/27/2009 at 03:10 PM

MA - Yes, true. I also didn't realize that Dinara was playing LA next week, so it would make more sense to play last week and take this week off before LA.

I'm still pretty skeptical about Dinara's prospects at the USO (though there'd be some pretty neat big bro symmetry if she broke through and won it this year).

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/27/2009 at 03:17 PM

this was a great post. i like dinara alot and think if she can conquer (sp?) her nerves and win a major she'll go on a tear and rack up a few. jewell, i like the pic too. she looks fierce.

Posted by creig bryan 07/27/2009 at 03:32 PM

Nice piece, Pete.

And a very effective photo of Dinara. (No, Robbyfan, it doesn't really flatter her, but from a tennis standpoint it's a highly effective action shot, with intensity showing on her face.

Keep Smiling

Posted by robbyfan 07/27/2009 at 03:35 PM

Hi Creig Bryan-I saw where you congratulated me on Robby's win yesterday. Still smiling for him!

Posted by BrooklynNY 07/27/2009 at 03:39 PM

ummm... to the people saying this particular picture is a scary picture of Safina...

that is what she normally looks like... maybe you haven't seen a close up

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 03:44 PM

Good point on Dinara being 32-1 on red clay for the past 2 years without getting the main prize.

Posted by robbyfan 07/27/2009 at 03:48 PM

BrooklynNY-I disagree. She has a very sweet and charming smile. I realize this picture is a fraction of a moment in time but still! The weird angle makes her clothing look strange and her shoe appears to be clown sized. Just saying.....

I love to watch her play.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 04:26 PM

Good afternoon everyone,

There is something very sweet about Dinara. I think, sooner or later, she will win a grand slam and I will be delighted for her when that time comes. Good article, Pete. Pic does look a little odd though.

Posted by Mr. X 07/27/2009 at 04:26 PM

Great article, Pete. That Marat is tremendous: "It's okay. It's a girls' matter. It's just girls talk." LOL
I guess we'll have to see if she's really been gathering information at the USO (or the next Slams). You could have said that she was doing that same thing when she won Rome and Madrid, but that didnt really prevent her from being very disappointing in the RG final. And maybe she could also consider the risk to overplay and not arrive at the USO in her best condition. I think we can assume Serena will be at her best, demolition-like self in NY.
It wouldnt be very good for Dinara to hear this after a certain Miss Williams wins another major: "Hey, she deserves to be No.1, she won Port.., Potr..., what's the name of that place again?"

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/27/2009 at 04:29 PM

OK, here is where I come in with the voice of dissenting opinion. I think a lot of things have happened which prevents Dinara from winning that elusive major. I think the foremost thing is her lack of belief. As someone who relies heavily on her coach during regular tour events, Dinara will always have an issue in relation to how she adapts mid-match. That is what separates the Williamsovas from the rest of the tour, that innate ability to be able to come up with something different when your regular game is just not working. I will give her the fact that she is a fighter, but she just does not have that mental toughness that all champion players seem to have, or are able to draw upon especially when things are not going well.

In addition, there are so many deficiencies in her game. The serve that goes awry when under pressure, the movement that is a liability on every surface apart from clay, the forehand that goes off to Hawaii to visit Serena’s forehand when a match gets tight. All these deficiencies are prone to happen to her, especially when she is faced with players who are playing for everything.

For the record, prior to Sunday, Dinara and Serena had won the same amount of titles since the season began. In the early half of the season Serena made the quarters or semis of every event in which she was entered. Serena has won 2 majors and Dinara has won 2 Tier I titles and an international event. Dinara has had the better season in terms of points accumulated as a result of her doing well during clay season and Serena being injured.

I will not trash her accomplishments, but at the same time, I am very doubtful of her ability to get beyond her nerves and accomplish something that will put her at the pinnacle of the sport (aside from being No. 1). Also, what is with this thing where everyone who gets to No. 1 starts feeling all this pressure. I am not sure that I am buying into this, “oh poor little me, I got to No. 1 and then there was all this pressure”. If you are not playing for the No. 1 ranking and the accumulation of major titles in your chosen field of endeavour, then to my mind you need to choose another profession.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 04:37 PM

She definitely needs some "mental toughness" and to learn the ability to overcome her nerves. She must learn these things herself because these are not things that can be taught.

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 07/27/2009 at 04:38 PM

Interesting Marat took issue with Wilander coming after her as a commentator but not with SW as a tough competitor. I liked the bit - giving trouble to each other but without any harm to each other. While I am not an expert in Captain speak but an interesting distinction. I also have noticed quite a few top male players like Ms. Williams and her game and tough approach. I think he is saying - tough,honest talk but not mean spirited- something top players seem to understand (and before I am under attack - I understand SW is not perfect)

Posted by Tfactor 07/27/2009 at 04:44 PM

"Also, what is with this thing where everyone who gets to No. 1 starts feeling all this pressure. I am not sure that I am buying into this, “oh poor little me, I got to No. 1 and then there was all this pressure”. If you are not playing for the No. 1 ranking and the accumulation of major titles in your chosen field of endeavour, then to my mind you need to choose another profession"

Not talking specifically about Dinara but I believe that when someone gets to the top (of any particular field) expectations are created to show he/she can back it up, that the rise was not a fluke. Furthermore, the more the person wants it, the more the pressure to perform, to sustain the top level. Unfortunately not everyone thrives under pressure, for some people wanting it so badly is actually quite counterproductive.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 07/27/2009 at 04:50 PM

Great piece.

I'm also in the camp that thinks she is a lot more fragile mentally than Pete suggests. Mid-match she often seems tentative, or simply lost, and the set can quickly get away from her before she gets it back together again.

That said, there is a resilience or determination about her that seems to come through, though that timeline is sometimes longer than a particular match.

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) 07/27/2009 at 04:51 PM

ehhh...i dont mean to be pedantic.....but
1. Safina has actually made the semis or better at the last 4 GS's...
and 2. Safina did beat serena in berlin last year....but i suppose it was used in a GS context....

and as i've said before on the matter.....some players just need more time to make that final step......Kutzy is an example in making the step fro mone time slam winner to two-time winner....another example is Mauresmo....who also held no.1 without a GS....and took a long time to finally win her first GS....but went on a bit of a roll after winning it.....Dinara went on a bit of a roll after her breakthrough berlin last year (another step in her career??)....i wonder will she do the same if she wins her first major???....cos i think that wen dinara is on....she does hav the ability to dominate most of the game lyk.....

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 04:58 PM

One wonders how one with such great fighting abilities can suddenly become so tentative and riddled with nerves. I always know when she is going to become that way, I can almost see her start thinking ...

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 05:06 PM

Good observation on Dinara and comparing her situation to Svetlana and Amelie.

Cayman Karen,
There is no more Tier I tournaments. There are now 3 levels of Premier events(Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, and Premier). Dinara won a Premier Mandatory and a Premier event to go along with the International one won yesterday.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 07/27/2009 at 05:16 PM

lynne: i know what you mean. she will start to look over at her coach beseeching him to tell her what to do. i don't think the coaching on court is helpful to her at all.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 05:20 PM

Annie: I don't know whether or not the other players enjoy having their coaches on court, but it doesn't do Dinara any good whatsoever.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 07/27/2009 at 05:25 PM

Karen - Agree with you (as usual) re: Dinara and the coach thing. I'd love to see her take this summer hardcourt swing as an opportunity to gather information on what it's like to play without on-court coaching. That, IMO, would benefit her more than anything else (apart from ironing out the problems with the serve).

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/27/2009 at 05:28 PM

Thanks MA for the clarification.
Tfactor, I take your point about expectations etc., but I keep hearing the same shill from all these players who have attained the No. 1 ranking and I think that it is not about fulfilling expectations, but being able to thrive in the moment. There are some people in life who the more success they have, the more successful they want to be. Serena is one, Dinara unfortunately for me does not seem to be in that group. This may sound like I am contradicting myself, but when she is down and out she will fight, but fight to the extent that she knows that she can win. However, when faced with certain opponents she just does not seem to be able to find that that little je ne said quoi (sorry for our French folks here) which separates the fighters from the contenders.

Posted by Jake 07/27/2009 at 05:30 PM


I'm glad you picked up on this matter - it is interesting because only yesterday when Dinara won at Slovenia i thought:

"here she is toiling away to earn ATP points while Serena and other top players are doing off-court stuff, only to begrudge her when she maintains her #1 ranking."

If it is not so "pretty" to be #1 without a slam title (I admit there is something curious to that argument), maybe - just maybe - the ranking system might want to consider awarding "bonus"/"extra credit" for a #2-ranked ATP player who has won a Slam, if the #1 hasn't.

Regardless, it is very unfortunate to put down a player simply because s/he never won a slam but has been consistently racking up point from over-all ATP tour events.

Go Dinara!

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/27/2009 at 05:31 PM

sblily, I hope to God that the new CEO of the Tour does away with on-court coaching. Does the WTA have a player's council like the men do? If so, it would be good to find out whether they are looking into changing some of the things that Larry put into place while he was in charge. I really think that on court coaching has done little for the women, save and except have them depend on some guy who has never accomplished much in his career (if he even had one) come down and berate his charge).

Posted by James 07/27/2009 at 05:41 PM

Do you find it funny that she is getting so much heat. Let's look at Lindsay Davenport who Americans loved when she was #1 for three years in a row without winning a major. Lindsay didn't get nearly as much crap as Safina.

Posted by Ruth 07/27/2009 at 05:42 PM

Pete's post touches on all of the reasons why I have never been a voice in the "she is not worthy" chorus raised against Dinara. Yes, it would be nice if Dinara had won a Slam while on the way to #1. Yes, it would be nice if all #1's were Slam winners. But, for me, that is not absolutely necessary.

I believe that the WTA ranking system, which is almost exactly like the ATP ranking system, is fair and does not need to be changed just to avoid Slam-less #1's. At present, the WTA grants double the number of points for the Slams as it does for the next highest ranked tournaments. That is more than enough, especially considering the fact that the winners of Slams play 7 matches in 14 days compared with 4 or 5 matches in 7 days in their Tier 1 (can't be bothered with the new name) tournaments.

I love the USOpen, wouldn't miss it, but do I really think that it is more demanding or somehow worthy of more than 200% of the IW or Miami or Stanford points? NO!

So, IMHO we need to lay off criticizing both the ranking system and any player who, by consistently going deep into the Slams and many other tournaments, is able to be the player with the highest number of points.

(If I were to change anything about the rankings, I would base them on fewer events -- about 12, to emphasize quality more than quantity -- but I realize that the use of 16 is just part of the way the WTA tries to encourage players to play more events.

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/27/2009 at 05:52 PM

Ruth, it is not often that I disagree with you, but I disagree with you here. I dont think anyone here is of the view that Dinara is not worthy of her No. 1 ranking (at least I am not saying so). I think the issue that I have taken up with Pete's article is Dinara's lack of mental ability and/or her ability (tennis wise) to actually win these big events. To my mind, there is much more effort in playing the majors than there is to playing an ITF event. I hate to do this, but when you look at other sports, anyone can win the usual run of the mill tournies. What separates the other tournies are the ones that you play for - the NBA championships, the Super Bowl etc. The 4 majors are the pinnacle of our sport and it takes a lot of physical and mental preparation by all athletes to be able to enter these tournies and keep your focus for 14 days. It says even more when a player does this whilst playing singles and doubles and winning both of them. In addition, during the regular tour events, players have the option of calling someone out to aid and assist them to problem solve - there is no such facility at the majors. When a player goes to Wimbledon, she/he may as well go by themselves, because when you take the court, all you see is an opponent who wants to make history.

Does anyone here think that if Sharapova had beaten Serena at say Portoroz that her name would have garnered so much success. The fact that Azarenka beat Serena at Miami, and took a set off her in Melbourne immediately made Azarenka into a star. A fact that Serena had to put paid to.

For my money, Dinara is a deserving No. 1 as the computer rankings says she is and she has accumulated her points fairly and squarely. She has been consistent and effective in the execution of her game. However, until she says to the world that she has finally won a major, there will always be question marks surrounding her No. 1 status. I think one of the reasons that Lindsay did not get much flack is because she had already proven herself as she had already won her majors.

Posted by Heidi 07/27/2009 at 06:11 PM

Commentators used to take hold of the other end of the stick. The fact that Serena and Venus don't play enough tournaments to get ranked as high as they maybe should be based on sheer ability and competitive spirit is also what makes the rankings look odd, not just Safina's out-of-Slam accumulation. I feel like tennis (tv at least) commentators were going on about this a year or two ago, calling them distracted, unfocused, fashion-obsessed, etc., and then suddenly the #1s became the punching bags instead. Either way, #1 is #1, and I haven't noticed Serena's seeding hurting her lately.

But I am worried about Safina. How many of these big matches can you blow before you finally win one? Ivanovic had her meltdown and then pulled it together and won a major (what's happened since is another story). I'm just afraid of the lack of confidence at the big moments becoming a vicious cycle. If it's a process, let's hope it's not a circular one.

Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 07/27/2009 at 06:15 PM

Thanks for the great post on Dinara. I really think she'll win a major soon--there's no doubt in my mind that she'll conquer her nerves one day soon. She is a fighter...and she's already made great strides in the mental and fitness arenas. Plus her brother is to die for! Go, Dinara!

Posted by Master Ace 07/27/2009 at 06:20 PM

I,personally, like the ranking system for the WTA and ATP and Dinara has showed consistency making semis or better at all Slams and winning Premier events. Last title Serena won other than a Slam was at 2008 Charleton.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 07/27/2009 at 06:25 PM

Heidi - Was just thinking the same thing re: blown opportunities. Dinara has choked away more GS finals than most players ever have the opportunity to compete in. Reminds me a bit of Dementieva in '04. Really hope Dinara can pull it together in a GS final -- I think her previous struggles would make it even sweeter.

Posted by Samantha Elin 07/27/2009 at 06:28 PM

Great post Pete, I really enjoyed reading this. She sounds like a girl on a mission.

Posted by nica 07/27/2009 at 06:36 PM

Great post Pete. I really appreciate players who work hard and want to see them rewarded a la Safina. Hopefully she will overcome her demons.

The French Open was almost hard to watch. It seemed like we were given a peek at some dirty little secret that should not have been there for public consumption. Seems that she is way too codependent on her coach and may be could use a sports psychologist.

One of the big beefs I had against Henin was that she had to look up at her coach after each point. Would prefer more Federer/Sampras types who are out there on their own.

Posted by Ade 07/27/2009 at 06:52 PM

I believe the ranking system is fair also. Dinara deserves to currently be the number 1 player in the world right now because of her hard work. Period. End of sentence.

With that said, she lacks the natural athletic ability to win against the more gifted players like Serena, Venus, and others. She reminds me of Sharapova. Lots of power, but not a truly gifted athelete who can spring around the court like lightning (Henin, Graf, Navratilova, the Williams,,etc,,). Her wins seem exhausting for me to watch. She has to put too much efffort into playing.

Posted by Dreamsonfire 07/27/2009 at 07:00 PM

"It wouldnt be very good for Dinara to hear this after a certain Miss Williams wins another major: "Hey, she deserves to be No.1, she won Port.., Potr..., what's the name of that place again?""

Lol, Mr.X.

Posted by kchowcrazy 07/27/2009 at 07:25 PM

great post, im a newbie but have to agree with everyone who posted above, i have grown to respect and admire Safina over the past few months (despite not really enjoying her game) and do think she is a worthy #1 as she is consistently there winning tournaments and at the latter stages of slams,
sibily totally nailed the issue though she has had so many chances to prove herself on the biggest stage and failed miserably everytime, i mean french 09, serena injured/masha rusty/domi,vika untested and she faces somebody more flaky in finals then she is in Kuzzy who she had already beaten that clay season and still lost painfully. Athletes don't have many windows of opportunity and when you compare her to Masha who grabbed 3for4 or Serena who has 11/14 or even JJ who this time last year was riding high but now would be lucky to make second week at the US open you see how she may not get many more chances to get the slam she deserves

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/27/2009 at 07:32 PM

Can't add much to what Cayman Karen is saying.

Regarding Davenport, she also was clearly better than Safina in several very important areas.

One. The serve. No major technical flaws and often a consistent cannon.

Two. Davenport's ball striking was/is superior, if not rushed.

Three. Davenport's play at the net was clearly superior.

Davenport had a better game. Which makes it easier to win majors.

See how easy tennis analysis is?

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 07:46 PM

Interesting how nice Marat was about Serena's criticism of Safina and wasn't so nice in his criticism of Mats for just giving his opinion on Safina. I guess it's ok for Serena to have an opinion, butn't Mats because he's "only a commentator." Mr.X, LOL, Serena might just say something like that. Go Caro, Scandinavia's #1!

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 07:52 PM

People always speak about JJ and Dinara in the same breathe because both became no l without winning a slam. I think this does Dina a diservice. She has been to many more finals than JJ and has a better game. Dina's problems are mental, freezing in the big matches. In contrast, JJ has a weak serve and no weapons that can hurt a top player. Her winners are low and she relies heavily on getting many balls back and hoping her opponent makes an error. Dina is fully capable of hitting winner and has tremendous power. To me Dina is a far better player than JJ and that is rarely mentioned.

Posted by Ruth 07/27/2009 at 07:53 PM

CK: I agree with you about Dinara's mental fragility etc. No argument there. I had to avert my eyes out of embarrassment of compassion for her when she kept looking at her coach and crying, "Why am I such a chicken?" as she went down in flames in one of her matches. She is not the most talented player, she is not the most gifted player, and she is certainly not the BEST player currently on the Tour. (Everyone knows that is Venus Ebone Williams -- OK, OK, sblily, it's Serena...NOW.)

But Dinara deserves the highest ranking in the WTA just as the student who does B+ and A work on ALL of his assignments for me deserves a better semester grade than that talented, brilliant student who submits late and shoddy work (C's at best) for most of the semester, then has the nerve to ask me if I will give him an A if he makes an A+ on the research paper at the end of the semester. No, sir, I will not! :)

Posted by Tfactor 07/27/2009 at 07:57 PM

Karen I completely agree with you. Excelling under pressure, when it matters most is what separates the great from the rest of the pack.

Personally, I can appreciate most players, regardless of results or greatness, if I see their effort and desire.

Posted by American favor 07/27/2009 at 07:58 PM

This entire discussion is a waste of time on someone who does not have the class and talent to make it big. Safina is a mere fill in until the next star on the Women's circuit appears who can hold the world #1 ranking for a long stretch. We had Justine Henin who left a short time ago and ever since different mediocre players (except Serena of course, who by choice does not participate in all ATP tournaments) are trading places with each other.

The moment the next star bursts on the scene, the Safinas and Jankovics of the world will fade away into lower rankings.

The rise could be from an existing talented player or just someone new - we are in a interim wait period now until this happens.

It is because of the lack of class, mental toughness on the big stage and not enough raw talent that we have someone like Safina hanging on by the thread of hard work alone (sans everything else).

Posted by Tfactor 07/27/2009 at 07:59 PM

I like your school work analogy ;-)

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 08:02 PM

American favor, again I think it is a mistake to put JJ and Dina in the same category. "the Safina and Jankovic of the world." It's not fair to Safina. To me, her problems can be overcome. I remember when Amelie had the same problems and use a sport psychatrist and was able to win slams. Dina has the game to win a slam, JJ doesn't.

Posted by marguritaspecial 07/27/2009 at 08:07 PM

Safina is a good player I really like her but I do think to say a player who has never won a grand slam and chokes every time she is in a final or up against a better player cannot be called the #1 player .Serena is far and away in my book the #1 player and Venus the #2 player every body can fight for the rest of the ranking. Even Venus is not as good as Serena .Congrats to Richard I know if there's a hall of fame for tennis coaches he will get there he is by far the winningest coach in tennis, good luck Dinara in the US open you will need it against any of the Williams sisters by the way so glad My RAFA is back watch out Roger.

Posted by Ruth 07/27/2009 at 08:14 PM

Thanks, Tfactor. I couldn't resist mentioning that because that's what I always think about when I hear the old "Slams are the most or the only important things" argument being cited at TW.

Posted by Amit 07/27/2009 at 08:15 PM

Andrew's analysis of Safina's double-fault percentage from a few days ago is surely an indicator of something.

Let us look at the "#1 with no majors" question in a slightly different way. Let's consider the highly plausible scenario where Nadal is still #1 and Fed #2 - in spite of the fact that Federer has won 3 of the last 4 majors. In such a case, any dissent about the ranking system would've been rather muted - even among Fed fans. The only reason being that Rafa has beaten Fed repeatedly in the game's grandest stages - that legitimizes his ranking. No tennis viewer in their right mind would question Rafa's credentials.

What Safina is doing to maintain her ranking is like doing taxes -dotting the i's, crossing the t's, retaining every receipt. The tennis equivalent of efficient book-keeping. She needs to stop crumbling at the sight of a Williams sister for the critics to stop.

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/27/2009 at 08:17 PM

Ruth, I agree with the analogy. However, I am not saying that she does not deserve her No. 1 ranking. My issue with Dinara is her inability to fight her way out of pressure situations, especially when confronted with players who are experienced and have a Plan B. As someone posted up top, she makes tennis seem like the most arduous task there is, and when things are not working, she starts to cry. I have seen that with Serena as well. The difference is that Serena will pick herself up, pump her fist, yell her ass off and go down fighting or win the darned match. Can you imagine if Dinara had been faced with the situation that Serena faced in her semifinal match on match point. All match coming to net was not working. She had won 6/14 net approaches. What does she do on match point on a second serve, against someone who is seeing the ball as if it is a football. She comes in on an approach and she puts away the volley. Do you think anyone else on the WTA tour would have bet it all like that, or rather do you think Dinara would have bet it all on something as risky as that?
Dinara needs to leave Z behind each time she plays the regular tour events. She needs to stop calling him on to the court. She needs to hitch up her shorts and stare down her opponent and do what she needs to do. No more excuses. No more process. She has been on tour almost as long as Serena. The time has come for her to cash in her chips or leave the table.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 08:22 PM

Well said Karen, cash in your chip or leave the table.

Posted by Amit 07/27/2009 at 08:29 PM


But why can't both students get an A? They just have different ways of arriving at the A?

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 07/27/2009 at 08:31 PM

Karen, perhaps you are holding Dinara to too high a standard? Yes, she's not as good as S&V in pretty much every department of the game over a two week period. Yes, she is mentally fragile. Yes, she is tactically one/two dimensional ;-). And, yes, she's too reliant on Z.

But, she's also made SF or better in the 5 of the last 6 slams! So, it can't be all that bad. Why is she the object of so much criticism, when others (i.e., the Serbs) are doing squat with all their talent?

"" The time has come for her to cash in her chips or leave the table. ""

I strongly disagree with this. She should continue with her consistency, and one day with a little luck she'll get that first one. Then, the floodgates will open.

Posted by Ruth 07/27/2009 at 08:31 PM

CK: I definitely agree with you about Dinara and the coach-dependency thing. I stopped watching the Porto??? final live stream after I realized that Dinara had called her coach down before the third set. I did so partly because I mightily disapprove of on court coaching period (especially if the men don't allow it) and partly because I agree that Dinara has got to get rid of that crutch, her extreme dependency on her coach, if she is ever going to win one of the Slams -- where, thank heavens, on court coaching is not allowed.

Thank you, ITF!

Posted by TennisFan2 07/27/2009 at 08:37 PM

I think Dinara will be fine and it sounds like big brother nailed it - she was a surprise #1 and she is determined to hold on to it. If she keeps training hard and doesn't let her head get in the way she will find her way to a slam trophy next year (I think Serena has set her sights on another USO title and I don't think anyone is going to stop her train this year).

Posted by Amit 07/27/2009 at 08:37 PM


Why would you expect the floodgates to open for Safina, especially with her limited game?

Posted by Tfactor 07/27/2009 at 08:39 PM

""" The time has come for her to cash in her chips or leave the table. ""

I strongly disagree with this"

So do I, and not just as it pertains to Safina.
I guess I see things from a totally different perspective. Not everyone can achieve greatness, yet as a certain Spaniard likes to say, you can always improve (or try anyway) no?

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 07/27/2009 at 08:45 PM

Amit, I don't think you need to be multi-dimensional a la Fed, Rafa, and/or Murray to win multiple slams. When Dinara is in the zone, she can bludgeon most girls off the court. That should be good enough for 4-5 slams, with a little luck.

Imo, the problem is that she doesn't believe she can stay in the zone for an entire match or tournament. The first slam will have a cathartic effect, if it does happen.

Also, remember that she's good enough to put herself on the big stage time after time. Lendl was constantly losing in finals till he got that win over JMac in '84. He certainly did ok after that, no?

Posted by jhurwi 07/27/2009 at 08:47 PM

Amit, as a retired teacher, I can tell you why both students don't get the same grade! I was always required to post my grading system on my syllabus at the beginning of the year. Each major assignment is worth a certain number of points toward the term grade (comparable to each tournament carrying a certain maximum number of possible points), an an A on the final research paper (comparable to winning a slam)will not completely offset low grades on other assignments.
When it came time to award the end-of-the-year prize for the best student in my department, I always argued for the consistent student who had amassed the highest marks (the "slamless #1's")rather than the one who did one brilliant piece of work at the end, because I felt consistency over the course of the year deserved recognition--and if the "bright but lazy" student who does one brilliant piece of work really wants the prize, she/he only has to be consistent next year!

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 08:50 PM

Pspace, I think Karen is holding Dina to the high standard we should expect from someone holding the no l ranking and who is an expeienced player. Dina is 23 which isn't young for a tennis player and she's a veteran. I think Karen has high standards and high expectations for the world's#1 and maybe is a little tired of the excuses as to why she can't win the big one.

Posted by Amit 07/27/2009 at 08:54 PM


I don't remember the Lendl ascendancy. He most certainly did well, so your point is well taken. However, he mid-wifed power baseline tennis that many players (Mac, especially) couldn't cope with. I am not sure Dinara is bringing a new sort of game with her.

Dinara, to me, is like Hewitt - their games can be figured out relatively quickly. Doesn't mean she can't win a couple of slams.

Posted by Bobby 07/27/2009 at 09:02 PM

From what I've seen of Dinara lately, this is what I'm most impressed by: "She's endured those terrible whippings without spiraling off into deep depression or chucking her racquets into the Thames and entering a nunnery." (Nicely put, Pete.) Hopefully she'll get over what ails her (e.g., fragility in finals, unhealthy reliance on her coach) and win a GS. She has the game to do it. It's a question now of whether she has those infamous "intangibles".

Posted by charles 07/27/2009 at 09:03 PM

I'm thinking back to the days before computer rankings. Determining the number #1 player or top 10 was largely the opinion of journalists and other players, maybe tournament directors doing seeding...
I can't imagine that anyone would seriously consider that the current holder of 3 of the 4 majors wasn't #1.
Serena is clearly the best player in the world on any sort of subjective or practical level - she's #1.
It's just that #1 on the WTA computer is not necessarily the "true #1" to use Serena's words...
Serena was right.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat Time!) 07/27/2009 at 09:11 PM

Samantha, the No. 1 issue is a whole different can of worms, and most of the criticism there can be leveled at Serena. If we removed all of Fed's points from outside the slams, he would be No. 4 in the ATP! It is reasonable to expect a 3-slam winner to at least do ok in the other events right? Serena has been losing in first round after first round (except for Miami). Just rubbish.

Regarding her age, yep...she's no spring chicken. But, she has at least a couple more years before her game tails off. Serena is an all-time great. No reason to hold some other girl (No. 1 or not) to that standard. Would we level the same criticism if she was say No. 2 or 3? I don't think so.

Posted by mw 07/27/2009 at 09:12 PM

Pete..Very nice post. I agree, it's a process. It will take some time.

Samantha, your analogy is sound. Your right, It took Amelie a while, until she got help. I believe the same can be said for Safina. It's ALL mental.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 09:16 PM

Also, I feel Dina had the misfortune to achieve her no l status at a time when Serena is winning most of the slams while hot mess JJ achieved it when Serena wasn't doing as well. I have to feel a little sorry for Safina always being compared to someone who is currently holding 3 of the 4 slams. That must be hard for her because every match Serena plays they bring up she is holding 3 slams while Safina has none. Think about the pressure that puts on Dina. She had a tougher time as no l than hot mess JJ.When I saw Serena at WTT match that is all they talked about. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, world's#9!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 09:18 PM

Well, it's all very easy for us to sit in front of our screens and offer our opinions, isn't it?

I've read all the above posts but nobody has convinced me that Dinara will not win a GS one day.

Posted by Amit 07/27/2009 at 09:18 PM


"When it came time to award the end-of-the-year prize for the BEST student in my department" - (emphasis mine)

Do you honestly feel that Dinara is the best tennis player in the world at the moment?

Posted by Jake 07/27/2009 at 09:19 PM

"It's okay. It's a girls' matter. It's just girls talk."- Marat Safin.

Oh boy Marat!

Girls' cat-fight this, that's all it is - jajajaja!

Let them resolve it on court with grunts.

She who grunts the loudest (measured in decibels by well-placed audio recorders in strategic points around the court), is #1.

Yeah, that should resolve this noise about who is #1 (by WTA computer and points-based ranking) or who is #1 (by subjective journalists and sports afficianados' ranking) - as "charles @ 9:03pm" suggests.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 09:19 PM

Pspace, agree she is always being compared to Serena and that is a huge burden to carry around. Even Venus isn't compared to Serena as much as Safina is.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 09:27 PM

Pspace, the problem is when you're holding 3 of the 4 slams, most people quickly forget the lower tier events you losts because your record at the slams is so successful. Frankly, I agree with this. If you remember when Dina was winning so many titles leading up to the FO and these were great titles, I said that the criticism would continue to come if she didn't win s slam. That is the nature of the game. Kimmie C won many tier l events, but the fact that she only won l slam is why she won't be considered one of the all time great. I hate to say this, but the slams really are everything.

Posted by marktennisuyar 07/27/2009 at 09:28 PM

I think it's really unfair to continue praising all of Safina's opponents in all the grand slams EXCEPT for roland garros.
Svetlana was playing great all week and beat some players who were playing really great tennis of their own, yet her victory over Safina at the French CONTINUES to focus completely around Safina and her "nervousness" and her "coach-dependency" but it completely fails to even ACKNOWLEDGE that Kuznetsova was on the court. She player outstanding tennis in that final, and it's completely out of context to simply classify that match as "Safina's nervousness and heartbreak". Heck, Kuznetsova has had a lot of heartbreak of her own but she doesn't need to broadcast it to the world in the same way Safina has. Kuznetsova just kept her head down, had a tough FIVE YEARS and rose to the occasion again. I think people need to stop feeling sorry for Safina because she has been given plenty of chances and to be honest, I am not a fan of her very orthodox, common style of play. Let's give some credit to other players for a change. And above all, let's remember the Roland Garros 2009 Final as a testament of Kuznetsova's all-around game instead of Safina choking.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 09:34 PM

People who want to argue that the slams aren't the most important thing just look at Roger as soon as he passed Sampras in slams everyone from Mac to Sampras proclaimed him as the GOAT right after he won Wimbledon. Nobody compared or talked about his wins or loses at the lower tier events.

Posted by Ruth 07/27/2009 at 09:35 PM

I assumed (probably incorrectly) that Amit was just being facetious in his why-no-A-for-both question at 8:29; but, just in case he was being serious, your 8:47 response is perfect. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 09:38 PM

Most people can't tell you whether Sampras or Federer has won more tier l events, but they can sure tell you who has won the most slams.

Posted by Jake 07/27/2009 at 09:49 PM

"Most people can't tell you whether Sampras or Federer has won more tier l events, but they can sure tell you who has won the most slams."

Samantha Elin,

Oh yes, Slams are all-important when talking about GOATS - absolutely.

But the #1 ranking should always belong to who is CURRENTLY winning the most events or at least contending in the most top-tier events - even if s/he doesn't always win (Dinara).

These folk trying to take away Dinara's well-earned #1 ranking are just being churlish.

Someone wrote (up somewhere in the posts above) that the top of women's games is in flux because it is just waiting for the "right" person to come along.

Do you think maybe Caro Woz can step in?

I think she can, with a little bit more emotional maturity. She has the "it" factor, but she needs a little bit more growing up.

I'm sure you'll agree ;-)

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 10:02 PM

Oh, Jake, thanks you so much for the nice comments about Caro. She has more than just the it factor and she can step up. I don't know if you know this but Serena was asked what players in the future can challenge her and the only one she named was Caro. I agree about that she needs to mature more which includes not being so dependent on her coach/dad and not playing so much. I mean look at what happened to hot mess JJ from over playing. This girl has so much potential that it is really amazing. Serena see it and so many other do to. She has come so far in such a short time, but needs to pace herself, not play so much so she has enough gas for the later rounds of the slams. This girl is absolutely a potential slam winner. Caro really has it all, the it factor, beauty and she has game. Oh, god, I would just love to see her win a slam. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, world's#9, 2OO8, new comer of the year, new face of the Stella McCartney line, winner of five WTA titles and the youngest player in the top ten. She has achieved so much but I'm expecting more as she mature. Again, thanks for recognizing how great Caro can be. Du er den bedste, Caro.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 10:07 PM


How old is Caro? Here game has certainly come a long way in the last year.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 10:10 PM

Caro, just turn 19 a week ago at the tourney in Sweden which is a shot distance from her home. The crowd sang happy birthday as people waved the Danish flag. She was so cute. I admire her and what she's doing for Scandinavian tennis.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 07/27/2009 at 10:11 PM

should read short distance from her home.

Posted by Jake 07/27/2009 at 10:24 PM


People are different, but maybe Caro Woz can learn a thing or two from Roger Federer.

Whether by design or accident, he has been mostly injury-free thus far in his career (yeah, he had the mono and back), but comparatively he has been very solid.

His team around him have been stellar - making sure he gets all his physicals, just enough warm-up tournaments before the Big Ones and, of course, always conserving energy on court (letting go of bad plays quickly to focus on the next point - only God knows how he manages to do that, no negative emotions, etc.

Andy Roddick almost won Wimby this year by backing off his negative outburts on court - fighting umpires, smashing rackets all the time, etc. I'm sure his physical fitness played a big part, but his "maturity" did too.

I'm not surprised Serena sees Caro's potential. It takes a star to see one.

I've not really followed the women's game as much as the men's, but I'm hoping the GOLD is soon separated from the dross, and set apart!

Posted by Trevon 07/27/2009 at 10:29 PM

We need to give Safina a break look at Clisters she lost in so many finally before she finally won a slam. We need to give her time. Happy to see Clisters back.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/27/2009 at 10:30 PM

Well, I'm off for some BS now ... so goodnight everyone.

Posted by Jake 07/27/2009 at 10:35 PM

"Well, I'm off for some BS now ... so goodnight everyone."

Good night, Lynne, I'm going to bed too, work calls in the morning!

Bye Samantha Elin.

Posted by kimeron 07/27/2009 at 10:38 PM

Safina is no.1 because like Jelena Jankovic did in 2008 she is killing herself playing so many tournaments just to get to no1. Serena is the real no.1. she has 3 of the 4 majors and had she won that QF match against kuznetsova it would have been 4 of 4. But past is past. I like how the sisters have played their career because it has given them longevity and something to fall back on when retired. Safina's only realistic chance of winning a slam is FO and she has choked both times. I dont see an AO win because she's lucky she even made the final having been millimeters away from losing in 4RD against Alize Cornet.Luck!!!Wimbledon was a fluke like come on safina is not a good grass court player..USO the courts are way too fast for her as u can see she is a hella sluggish player.Bad defensive player when she plays big hitters like Williamses, Dementieva on fast surfaces.Clay is slow so she has a chance to get in place.At wimbledon she should have lost to Mauresmo or Lisicki but you cant put a child to do an adults job..ask Venus.6-1,6-0 embarassment to no.1 ranking. she lucky she won a game and that one was a struggle to close so.Safina just stop saying people are jealous of you (''Serena'' she made that comment to) because you are young and got to no1..please Serena got to no1 at 20 and already had 4 slam finals and 2 slams winning ger first at 17.Yea maybe a late bloomer but girl need to get it together before she embarasses herself even more..Can say she is good when she is not under pressure but under it oh boy..

Posted by Davor 07/27/2009 at 10:48 PM

Safin breaks Sampras to love! Up 2-1....

Posted by VC 07/27/2009 at 10:50 PM

Davor, do you have any link to a stream?

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/27/2009 at 10:52 PM

Hello good people!

It's been a while!

Count me among those who have consistently and repeatedly said whoever if no. 1 by ranking is no. 1 period. Dinara can win a GS but not simply because she has put in all the hardwork as some above have said. If that were the case, many journey men and women players put in much hardwork as well perhaps even more than top players but we don't harp that simply because of hard work thye should win GS. I believe she knows she has what it takes so She just has to work on what has been failing her in her past matches and not give up.

"Serena has been losing in first round after first round (except for Miami). Just rubbish."

Pspace - I can't but help correct you on this one ;-) Taking this year into account, this statement is untrue with regards to the spring HC season. Serena had the cumulative best result during that period as Karen had pointed out earlier doing SF or better in all tournaments she entered in. Not even Dinara had those results then and that was why Serena was no. 1 for that period. Her first round loss issues started with injury from KB through most of the clay season. Dinara had the best clay season and rightfully she ascended no. 1 during that period and has remained there.

Posted by ben 07/27/2009 at 11:00 PM

i like Safina..she's been very consistent since May 2008 and she did beat Serena in Berlin 2008 and she beat Venus in Roma this no question she cant beat them again..
she reached 7 finals since berlin 2008 onwards in 2008 and now 7 finals so far this year and winning 7 of these 14 finals..that's amazing..not many can achieve that..and not to forget she's been 33-4 in matches since taking the no 1 ranking..and since seizing the top ranking she been in the semi or better in 7 straights tourneys..that show she comfortable being no 1..her moments for winning Slam is doubt..i think she deserve to hold the no 1 ranking for her 52 weeks achievement..sometimes when you win Slams doesnt mean you will get the best ranking if players doesnt win others tourneys..
one player won a Slam in 97, but didnt get to No 1 because other results didnt back up..if some players did consistently well in year long Slam, i think they are No 1 in Slams ranking(if there is any)but if they dont do well in others important tourneys as consistently as what Safina did, then the top ranking for overall ranking is not Safina already did what she suppose to do to deserve the top ranking..

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever 07/27/2009 at 11:04 PM

Hey all

We have two options:

1) Dinara is not the #1 player. And that's a gut feel looking at the results in a cursory manner.
2) The ATP computer based rankings has its merit and by that she is #1. Ergo, we respect that.

Simple as that.

I would go with the 2) as we all seem to respect and go by the ATP computer (given the Fedal situation and where the top 10 stands as of today) rankings all along. Why would WTA be different. We cheered and hoo-hawed when Rafa took over the #1 and he deservedly so. Now Fed has it. So we hoo-haw all over. And hey, Roddick might move higher. Nole might move down. Murray may or may not (one who doesn't have *a* slam) move. If we go ahead to play by the rules, we need to respect the rules. Period.


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