Tag Archives: Dinara Safina

Agnieszka Qualifies!!! AND Keeping Up With The Safinas

21 Oct

Since Marion Bartoli pulled out of her quarterfinal match against Elena Vesnina today, Agnieszka Radwanska does in fact qualify for the Tour Championships in Istanbul. Bartoli had a viral illness and explained “I think my whole body needed a break and I was trying till the end, but yesterday during my match I already didn’t feel very good. But I still had a bit of energy left so it was enough.  This morning I had so much pain in my whole body, in my neck. I couldn’t even warm up today. So I knew it would be very difficult. But it has been a very long season and I really tried to play till the very end but that was it for me.”

Yesterday before she pulled out but perhaps knowing her ultimate fate said, “I am absolutely satisfied with this season which I am almost sure to finish in the top-10. Even getting to Istanbul as a substitute is a big achievement at the moment.” Both Marion Bartoli and Andrea Petkovic will be the two alternates in Istanbul, and in recent years the alternates have actually seen round-robin play so they should be prepared.

Agnieszka was relieved to qualify today and stated, “I’m so happy to finally qualify for the Championships as one of the Top 8 singles players. Just a few weeks ago I didn’t think I had a chance of qualifying and am now so happy to end my season in Istanbul.”

In unrelated news, I thought you might enjoy some recent pictures of what the Safin Siblings have been up to. Dinara has not retired like Marat had announced, but she did enjoy some time at IKEA last week. And as you will also see, Marat just keeps flapping his gums to anyone who will listen.

dinara safina ikea

Marat Safin and Davydenko

The Bright Side of The Dinara Beatdown

19 Jan

I watched the rebroadcast of the Clijsters Safina match because when I awoke to the news of the double bagel, I knew I had to see it with my own eyes.  Maybe for the train wreck aspect, but I was also hoping it may have been closer than the score indicated.  But alas, it was not a close 60 60 match at all as Dinara only won 16 points, barely more than one point per game.

What was better than expected was Dinara’s attitude. Of course she looked frustrated and confused, but knowing the result beforehand I was expecting that slumped head of hers, lots of screaming, and maybe some tears. There was also a moment toward the end of the match when Dinara called off a ballboy from picking up a loose ball she wanted, but he must not have seen her because he scooped up the ball and ran right by her. Her facial expressions were priceless as you could see her thinking this is just not my day, and then she even found a bit of humor in the situation. People may think I am crazy, but I saw signs of life that Dinara will rise to the top again…she just needs time and matches to build her confidence.  Oh, and by the way she only hit one double fault.

I also liked hearing in Kim’s press conference that the two spoke in the locker room after the match.  I know I would have run out of there like a baby…um yeah, a big baby that can run like the wind.  But Dinara handled herself professionally, or “a good girl like that” as Kim would say.  I also must admit that I loved the killer instinct that Kim the Nice exhibited on the court.  Off the court, she talked about feeling bad for Dinara.

“I mean, I do feel bad. I even caught myself like at 5 Love, she hit those couple backhands down the line. (motioning a cheer of support) ‘Yeah, that’s it.’  No, seriously (laughter). Okay, when she doesn’t play against me, I’m rooting for her because I want her to get back into it and build confidence. You feel when your opponent, when we’re in a rally and it’s going well, it’s like, Yeah, this is getting better. This is where she should be. You know, I think it’s obviously a big matter of confidence, as well. So that game is still in her. She didn’t get to No. 1 just by luck.

The brightest spot of the match for me was not even about Safina, or Clijsters for that matter. I enjoyed the affection and support the Australian fans showed Dinara. You could tell they really felt for the Russian with their cheers growing louder during the last few games, and they also seemed to appreciate the effort Dinara exerted toward the end despite the uneven score.  Keep in mind that this match was only the opening act for the Hewitt-Nalbandian match the Aussies had been drooling over as soon as the draw came out.  I love New York, but there would have been lots of rude hecklers if this match preceded a similar 1st round US Open match like Roddick-Del Potro for example.  Or even worse and more likely, Arthur Ashe stadium would have been near empty due to late arrivals and beer runs to avoid watching the blowout.  This proud but cynical New Yorker is also a grateful New Yorker.

Thank you, Aussie Fans.

Where Did All of The Dangerous Floaters Land?

14 Jan

The Australian Open draw has been released, and there will be a plethora of marquis 1st  Round matches to behold.  Let’s take a look…

(3) Kim Clijsters vs Dinara Safina

The popcorn match of the 1st Round for the Ladies is a battle of former #1’s Kim Clijsters and Dinara Safina.  Kim is the tournament favorite according to oddsmakers (and me), but Dinara is a tough 1st round match no matter how you slice it.  Yes, I do know that Dinara is ranked 65th and lost both of her matches in 2011, but she clearly has the skills needed to beat Kim as she has has done two times before.  Clijsters just lost the Sydney final 76(3) 63 due to some sloppy play after jumping out to a 5-Love lead over Li Na, so Kim will quickly need to find her form once again. Very quickly.

(1) Caroline Wozniacki vs Gisela Dulko

This match will  feature a clash between the #1 ranked singles player and the #1 ranked doubles player.  Ranked 48th in singles, Gisela Dulko has become known for causing early round upsets at the Grand Slams.  Last year, Dulko had wins over Ana Ivanovic at the Australian and Victoria Azarenka at both the French and U.S. Open.  In 2009, she beat Maria Sharapova on the grass courts of Wimbledon.  Caroline had a shaky start to the 2011 season with a 60 61 loss to Zvonareva in a Hong Kong exo and then proceeded to lose 1st round in Sydney to Dominika Cibulkova.  And that’s exactly who Caroline could play in the 3rd round.

(12) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Kimiko Date-Krumm

The 40 year-old Japanese woman has been proving that age is only a number during her improbable comeback, and she has a real chance to cause an upset over yet another Top 20 player.  In 2010 alone, Kimiko had wins over 7 Top 20 players including Maria Sharapova, Li Na, and Sam Stosur.  Date-Krumm may even be considered the favorite in this match since Radwanska is coming back from injury and has not played any of the warm-up tourneys.  This will be an interesting battle to watch because both women like to stand inside the baseline and take the ball early.

(27) David Nalbandian vs Lleyton Hewitt

This is the match that has tennis fans buzzing, especially back in Australia.  Both of these players are ranked lower than their current level of play, and this match is an unlucky draw for both.  They are two of the  in-form players right now with Hewitt set to play Gael Monfils in the Kooyong final and Nalbandian taking on David Ferrer in the Auckland final.  Lleyton notched wins over Mikhail Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko this week, and David has not lost a set on his road to the final.  They also have quite the history with Hewitt owning a 3-2 head-to-head record but  Nalbandian has won the last two.  Hewitt won their only two Grand Slam meetings including the 2002 Wimbledon final and the epic 2005 Australian Open quarter final that he won 10-8 in the 5th.  This is a juicy match made even juicier if you believe the rumors that these two players genuinely dislike each other.

So where did the other so-called Dangerous Floaters land? Juan Martin Del Potro will meet Dudi Sela in the first round and could face Marcos Baghdatis in the 2nd.  Ivo Karlovic pulled countryman Ivan Dodig and will most likely meet Novak Djokovic in the following round.

Gilles Simon will play 35th ranked Yen Hsun-Lu in the first round followed by an inevitable 2nd Round clash with Roger Federer.  The Frenchman is on a roll this week with a 76(1) 60 win over Ernests Gulbis in the semis.  Gilles only lost 3 points in the second set, but that speaks more to Ernie self-destructing after he got broken at love while trying to serve out the first.  I should probably remind you that Gilles is undefeated against Roger in their two meetings, and I will never forget his 2008 Shanghai Masters Cup press conference after that second win.

JOURNALIST: You beat Roger Federer once. People might call it an accident or surprise. Now it’s the second time. What would you call it?
GILLES SIMON: A second accident (laughter).

While we are talking about French men, here is an update on TCW favorite Nicolas Mahut.  Nico barely got through his second round match in quallies over Guillermo Olaso of Spain by a score of 67(6) 75 63.  Nico needs to win just one more match against Frederik Nielsen of Denmark before he can become a Dangerous Floater in the main draw.  Allez, Nico!