Safina was a step slow throughout the match. Her service was below strength, her movement sluggish and in total, she faced no fewer than two dozen break points. The most alarming statistic was the 51 unforced errors she made, but never once did she give up, battling back from 0-4 in the first set to level at 4-4 and then taking the second set on a nip-and-tuck tie-break.
Dulgheru cannily took a comfort break after Safina had levelled, and the No.3 seed sat huddled under a towel as all the momentum she had just worked up slowly ebbed away. When the Romanian returned, it was all Safina could do to avoid the dreaded “bagel”, and she took only one of the last seven games.
“I can't say that I'm not experienced enough (to deal with the 15-minute break
) but it was strange, yes,” lamented Safina after the match. “I had to move and serve, just to keep my body moving (during the break) but I didn’t, and then I started from nothing, and after that I made too many unforced errors.”
“Overall I think the game, particularly in the third set, was quite difficult and fast. In a second, I was 5-0 down after winning the second set. Some points were okay in my game. I don't know if it was over-hitting or over-waiting. I think I was waiting too much for the ball and I was playing down and I had to move better with my feet. I want to watch my match on video before I analyse it.”
“I think the only good thing about this match was that my back didn’t create any problems,”
said the ousted champion as she bowed out of the tournament.