the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Safina powers past Paraguayan

Photo Titled Dinara Safina
A fierce forehand from No.1 seed Dinara Safina against Rossana De Los Rios

Dinara Safina lived up to her No.1 billing by making short work of Rossana de los Rios, winning 6-2, 7-5 in just over an hour to move into the third round, thus equalling her best showing at Wimbledon. While her game lacked variation, any ball that was there to be hit was clinically dispatched, while her service was more of a weapon than in recent times.

The Russian will continue to be regarded as a stop-gap world No.1 until she adds a Grand Slam to her trophy cabinet, and her recent travails and high-profile final defeats (at the Australian Open in January and at the last two French Opens) have heaped yet more pressure on her powerful shoulders and fragile psyche.

She has reached 13 finals in 22 tournaments since May 2008, a statistic any player would be proud of. Yet the fact that she lost more than half of them serves only to highlight the Jekyll and Hyde nature of her game – brilliant and frustrating in equal measures.

On Wednesday, there was more of Doctor Dinara Jekyll than Miss Safin Hyde on display. She won the toss and elected to serve – a surprising move given her lack of confidence over recent months on this most important of shots – and when she opened with a double fault, a disaster was on the cards.

The ace and two service winners that followed set a pattern, however. Rare were the moments throughout the match when she ramped it up to 106 mph, preferring to sacrifice a little speed for more accuracy, and she was never in any real danger of being broken.

Her game was, and is, all about power. She sliced the ball just once per set and came to the net only to shake hands after the final point. The rest of the match was spent sending flat fore and backhands barely inches over the net to either corner in a display of power and accuracy.

Her opponent – a journeywoman whose only successes have come on the lower-ranked ITF circuit and with a daughter as close in age to Safina as she is herself – gave as good as she got, and even had the crowd smiling when asking for a Hawk-Eye challenge when she was called for a foot fault – No.2 Court chair umpire Eva Asderaki politely declined.

The Paraguayan held her own in the second set until the 11th game, eliciting some Marat-esque pouts from Safina when she fluffed her returns. But in the end, the Muscovite’s brute strength won the day at a relative canter. And while De los Rios returns to her family and to the ITF circuit, Dinara can continue her elusive quest for the Grand Slam holy grail.

She will need another five victories over the next nine days to remove the “always the bridesmaid” and “Marat’s little sister” tags that dog her every step.

Court 2 - Ladies' Singles - 2nd Round
Dinara Safina RUS (1)Winner67
Rossana De Los Rios PAR 35

No comments:

Post a Comment