Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Indifference St.
Erratic Safina fails in rematch
By John Roberts in Dubai
19 February 2003
Dinera Safina is remarkably like her big brother, Marat Safin, the 2000 United States Open champion. It remains to be seen whether this proves to be a blessing or a handicap. The 16-year-old Safina is tall, powerful and hugely talented. She is also temperamental and erratic.
All aspects of Safina were seen at the windswept Dubai Duty Free Open here yesterday as she lost to her 21-year-old Russian compatriot, Anastasia Myskina, for the second time in five days.
Last week Myskina defeated Safina in the quarter-finals in Doha, 6-2, 7-5 and went on to beat Elena Likhovtseva in the WTA's first all-Russian final. Yesterday, having qualified for the main draw, Safina duelled through numerous close games against the fifth-seeded Myskina in a first-round contest containing seven breaks of serve, but finished a disappointing loser, 6-4, 6-3.
Neither player was able to produce a high level of consistency in the blustery conditions. But Safina did not help her cause by double-faulting seven times and attempting risky drop shots, all but one of which failed, and neglecting to attack Myskina's second serve with conviction.
Safina also allowed her frustration with her game to manifest into flashes of temper. Children's Day at the tournament attracted a noisy group of youngsters who were not particularly interested in the tennis. Safina yelled her disapproval. She was later annoyed by the arrival of a group of women in black abayas who were slow in finding their seats in the stand. On several occasions, Safina bounced her racket, and once hit a ball in anger, causing an unemployed ball-boy to duck.
Safina is coached by her mother, Rouza Islanova, who also guided her son Marat in his early years. "She never puts any pressure," Safina said. "I put pressure on myself. She is telling me the same as Marat tells me, 'Just enjoy'. If I win, OK. If I lose, I have to work on the things that went wrong." One or two points are likely to be added to the drawing board today.
There are seven Russian women in the world's top 50, including Myskina, Likhovtseva, who lost to Germany's Anca Barna yesterday, 6-3, 6-0, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is due to play Jennifer Capriati in the second round today.
A further three Russians are in the top 100, including Lina Krasnoroutska, who plays the Swiss Patty Schnyder today, and Safina, ranked No 65, who has already won a WTA title. That, as we are constantly reminded, is something the much-publicised Anna Kournikova has yet to achieve.
Marat: Last question: what do you think of me? Dinara: You are my god! When you play, I love
to see you. When you lose, I am even sadder than when it is me. When you are wounded, I suffer.
When you speak to me, I drink your words. When you come to see me playing, I am with the angels.