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May 11, 2014

Safina Officially Retires

Filed under: News — admin @ 5:59 pm

MADRID, Spain – In an emotional on-court ceremony at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday, Dinara Safina officially announced her retirement from professional tennis after a career that was highlighted by 12 WTA titles – including right here in Madrid – three Grand Slams finals and the World No.1 ranking.

One of the most powerful players ever to play the game, Safina emerged from brother Marat Safin’s shadow in a big way in the late 2000s, particularly in 2008 and 2009, reaching three Grand Slam finals at the 2008 French Open, 2009 Australian Open and 2009 French Open, as well as rising to No.1 in the world on April 20, 2009. Her biggest triumph came at the inaugural Mutua Madrid Open in 2009.

But nagging back injuries caused her to miss big chunks of time on the tour over the next two years, and after falling in the early rounds of Madrid in 2011 she never played again. Three years later, as Maria Sharapova stepped onto the podium to lift the Mutua Madrid Open crown, Safina stepped away.

“I took as much time as I could,” Safina said. “It was coming for years. There was no way my back could handle the tour. It was tough. Everything was hurting me.

“I will miss the fans, the people on tour, my fellow competitors.”

May 4, 2011

Narrow Defeat In Madrid

Filed under: News — admin @ 12:21 pm

Dinara lost a battle with 22-year-old Julia Goerges, 64 46 64, despite converting all four of her break point opportunities in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Dinara, the 2009 Madrid champion, twice rallied from a break down in the second set against the German but fell short in the third set of the 2 hour, 19 minute match. She had six aces, but was done in by 15 double faults. Nevertheless, she has still won 10 of her last 14 matches.

Dinara is now 1-2 all time against Goerges, having beaten her in the first round in Berlin in 2008 and having lost to her in the first round in Tokyo in 2010.

Dinara will be in action again next week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italiain Rome, where she has had a lot of success, reaching the final in 2006 and winning it in 2009.

Moving On In Madrid

Dinara experienced a major test but outlasted Nuria Llagostera Vives, 57 64 63, in 2 hours, 40 minutes in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday night, the Russian’s 10th win in her last 13 matches.

Dinara, the titlist at the inaugural Madrid event in 2009, knotted the first set at 5-5 after being down 5-3, but the Spaniard won two games in a row from there to seal the set. Dinara was down a break at 3-2 in the second set before reeling off three straight games to seize control. Then at 3-3 in the third, Dinara took the next three games to clinch the match, raising her career record against Llagostera Vives to 2-0.

Next up for Dinara is Julia Goerges, whom she is 1-1 against.

April 23, 2011

Illness Ends Great Week In Fès

Filed under: News — admin @ 12:55 pm

Dinara rallied from a 4-2 third set deficit to beat fellow Russian Anastasia Pivovarova, 64 26 64, on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem.

Dinara was into her first semifinal since she was runner-up at Cincinnati in August 2009, however, she was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s match against Alberta Brianti because of gastrointestinal illness.

“It’s sad because I was playing good, but health is more important,” said Dinara, who also had to withdraw from her doubles semifinal alongside Galina Voskoboeva.

Dinara Into Second Straight QF

Dinara continued her recent hot streak Thursday, as she handled eighth-seeded Alizé Cornet, 61 63, in the second round of the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem.

Dinara, who has won eight of her past 11 matches and is into her second straight quarterfinal, is now 3-0 all-time against Cornet. She will play fellow Russian Anastasia Pivovarova on Friday.

Later in the day, Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva beat Romanians Irina-Camelia Begu and Elena Bogdan, 63 64, in doubles action to raise their career record together to 6-0. Their semifinal opponents will be Nina Bratchikova and Sandra Klemenschits.

Dinara Crushes Craybas In Fès

Playing her first match since a back injury forced her to retire from her quarterfinal match in Marbella, Dinara continued her dominance of Jill Craybas with a 61 60 win in the first round of the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem.

Dinara is now 6-0 all-time versus the American veteran, with Tuesday’s 51 minute rout the most convincing of the victories by far. She will next play the winner of No.8 seed Alizé Cornet and Andrea Hlavackova.

Dinara’s only other appearance at this event occurred in 2002.

Doubles Win In Fès Opener

Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva routed Liga Dekmeijere and Jessica Moore, 61 61, in 50 minutes in the first round of doubles action at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Monday.

Dinara and Voskoboeva are now 5-0 as a duo, having won four matches en route to the title in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year in their only previous event together.

Dinara plays Jill Craybas, whom she is 5-0 against, in her singles opener on Tuesday.

April 9, 2011

Back Injury Ends Marbella Run

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Victoria Azarenka’s hot streak continued at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, though not in the fashion she would prefer, as she advanced to the semifinals when Dinara retired with a low back injury while trailing, 5-1, in the first set.

“I feel terrible to win that way, especially against Dinara,” said the top-seeded Azarenka, who has not dropped more than three games in a set all week. “She’s been struggling with injuries for quite a while. I can’t help but feel really hurt for her. I just wish her the quickest recovery possible and hope she can play as soon as possible.

“It’s a shame because she just started to play so much better and I was really happy for her, but it’s part of the game.”

Dinara has been plagued with this back issue for a couple of years now, but was just starting to play her best tennis in a long time, as she reached the round of 16 in Indian Wells, took world No.3 Vera Zvonareva to three sets in the second round in Miami and was into her first quarterfinal since September here in Marbella.

“It was a sad end to the week. I was playing well,” said Dinara, who is now 4-2 all-time against Azarenka. “I had another problem with my back. I started to feel a pain similar to the one I used to have. I was very afraid, so I am going to have an MRI and see what that shows. I hope it’s nothing serious and that it’s just my fear, but I want to double check. It’s not as strong a pain as before, but I have a similar sensation.”

Ironically, on Saturday it was Dinara’s partner, Agnes Szavay, whose back injury forced the duo to retire during the first set of their semifinal doubles match.

Into Marbella Doubles Semis

Dinara and Agnes Szavay moved into the semifinals of the Andalucía Tennis Experience doubles event by outlasting Germans Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr, 63 26 119, on Thursday.

Three times in the match tie-break, Dinara and Szavay were two points from defeat but managed to escape. This is their 10th career event together and the only other time they got at least this far is when they went all the way to the title at Gold Coast in 2008. They will play the winner of Friday’s match between Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Darija Jurak and No.3 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja.

Dinara is going for her second doubles title of 2011, having won Kuala Lumpur alongside Galina Voskoboeva earlier this year. She will play her singles quarterfinal on Friday against No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka.

Safina Still Sizzling

Dinara continues to play much more like the former No.1 that she is rather than the player who was ranked 117th – her lowest ranking in over eight years – as recently as February 13. After some impressive results the past few weeks, she is up to No.81 and will surely climb higher after her experience here at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, where she is now into her first quarterfinal since Seoul last September.

Dinara’s 63 64 triumph on Wednesday over Tsvetana Pironkova was an upset on paper, but hardly a surprise in that she also didn’t lose a set in either of her previous two meetings against the Bulgarian.

“I am very happy. I think it’s the first time in a while that I have won two matches in successive days,” said Dinara, who now has six victories in her past eight matches and has upped her 2011 record to 7-6. “However, I could have won both sets a little easier than I did and made it a little tougher on myself by making some stupid mistakes.”

Dinara will next play the winner of No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka and Laura Pous-Tio. She and Agnes Szavay will play their doubles quarterfinal on Thursday against Germans Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr.

Moving On In Marbella

Dinara edged the Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus in 2 hours and 12 minutes in the first round of the Andalucía Tennis Experience on Tuesday, evening her record at 6-6 for the year.

Dinara, a wildcard entrant in the singles draw, dropped the first set, 6-3, but then took the first five games of the second en route to a 6-2 set. In a topsy-turvy third set, she got off to a 4-1 lead, lost three straight games and won the final two for the set, 6-4, and the match. It was her first career match-up with the 20-year-old Rus and her first-ever singles match in Marbella.

“It’s good to finally win one,” said Dinara, who had been 0-3 in three set matches this year. “Everything she hit was landing in, on the line. But I hung in there and the moment she thought that she could win she got tight and started to miss shots. So I think at the crucial moment my experience played a big part and helped me to win.”

Next up for Dinara is fifth-seeded Tsvetana Pironkova, whom she is 2-0 against.

Dinara Advances In Marbella Doubles

Dinara and Agnes Szavay, playing doubles together for the 10th time but first since last year’s French Open, upended No.2 seeds and 2009 Marbella champions Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska, 61 61, in the first round of the Andalucía Tennis Experience on Monday.

The only two games Dinara and Szavay surrendered in the 51 minute match both came on Jans’ serve.

Dinara and Szavay, whose one title as a duo came at their first-ever event at Gold Coast in 2008, will play the winner of Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr and Lourdes Domínguez Lino and Laura Pous-Tio in the quarterfinals.

Dinara will play Arantxa Rus in the first round of the singles event on Tuesday. She is playing here for the first time and was awarded a wildcard into the draw. She has never squared off with Rus before.

March 25, 2011

Vera Eliminates Dinara In Miami

Filed under: News — admin @ 11:59 am

In a battle between two of the greatest Russian WTA stars of all time, Vera Zvonareva rallied to get past Dinara in her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open on Friday.

Zvonareva, ranked No.3 in the world, and Dinara, a former No.1, had met 11 times before, with Dinara leading that series, 6-5 – however, Zvonareva had won four of their last five. And after Safina went up a set perhaps that recent momentum kicked into gear, as Zvonareva came back for a 36 63 62 victory.

“It’s never easy to play Dinara. She started really well and I felt I had a lot of errors, but I handled the situation well and came up with good tennis when I needed it,” Zvonareva said. “Dinara is trying to win as many matches as she can right now. She’s a great player and I’m happy whenever she wins. We have known each other for so many years. I’ve had tough times too so I know how she feels, but you just take it one day at a time, one match at a time.”

Dinara Defeats Dokic In Miami

Both had shown flashes of their former brilliance this year and in an all-star first round match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Dinara was just too strong, beating Jelena Dokic Wednesday night, 64 64.

Dinara, a quarterfinalist in Miami in 2008, and Dokic, a quarterfinalist in 2001 and 2003, showed off powerful, pinpoint groundstrokes throughout the one-hour, 28-minute battle, but it was Dinara who came out better at the tail end of each set, breaking serve at 4-all in both before comfortably serving them out. She ended each set off with an ace – she had five in total during the match.

“I was really pleased with my serve and showed I can serve not only double faults but also some aces,” Dinara said. “I’m really happy with the win today, especially because I missed this tournament last year. It was a good match too – she has been playing some really great tennis and has been on fire.”

In Indian Wells, Dinara made it to the fourth round – her first time winning three matches at a tournament since the Aussie Open 14 months earlier. “Slowly I’m starting to get some matches behind me. I’m still far from my best but we are working day by day and each win helps me get closer to where I want to be.”

Next up for Dinara is No.3 seed Vera Zvonareva, who had a first round bye, as did all 32 seeds here. Although Zvonareva has won four of their last five meetings, Dinara leads Zvonareva in their overall head-to-head series, 6-5.

“It will be tough but I have nothing to lose,” Dinara said. “I’ll just go out there and enjoy it. Hopefully it will be a strong performance and I can pull off a win.”

March 15, 2011

Sharapova Ends Safina’s Indian Wells Run

Filed under: News — admin @ 4:29 pm

Maria Sharapova was in blistering form in Indian Wells Tuesday night, storming into the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open with a 62 60 defeat of fellow former world No.1 Dinara.

Sharapova, a champion at the Premier-level tournament in 2006 and this year’s No.16 seed, fired 28 winners to just 15 unforced errors during the 61-minute win on center court.

“This was one of the first tournaments she’s starting to play a lot better and find her form,” said Sharapova, who is now 4-3 all-time against Dinara. “That’s dangerous because confidence is a huge thing. You can go out on the court and just swing away. I wanted to take care of business.”

Dinara will take her newfound confidence into the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami next week.

Safina Scores Upset Over Stosur

The resurgence of Dinara got another boost in Indian Wells on Monday night, as the former No.1 – now No.108, but that will change fast – scored a 76(2) 64 win over No.4 seed Sam Stosur.

Dinara, who hadn’t won three straight matches in more than a year, still faced some serving demons, her five aces outweighed by 16 double faults; but the big returns and powerful groundstrokes were vintage Dinara as she scored her first Top 4 victory since beating Jelena Jankovic at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“I just want to enjoy the moment,” Dinara beamed in her press conference. “It wasn’t my day for serving, but it might have been from the baseline. I still managed to win a match, which is a good thing. And I stayed tough mentally.

“In 2008 it was going like this. Sometimes I watch my matches and think, ‘God, I wasn’t even thinking.’ Now there are times I think five times before each shot.”

Next up for Dinara will be the only other Russian ever to reach No.1, Maria Sharapova. Sharapova, seeded No.16, cruised past No.20 seed Aravane Rezai, 62 62.

Sharapova and Dinara are tied in their head-to-head series, 3-3, but Sharapova is 2-0 on hardcourts, those two wins both coming in straight sets.

“Maria is also coming back from an injury, but she’s ranked a little higher than me, just a hundred spots,” Dinara joked in her press conference; Sharapova is actually ranked 90 spots higher at No.18. “She’s a great player and a great competitor. I’ll do my best and whoever is stronger tomorrow will win.”

Through To Round 3 In Indian Wells

Dinara saved three set points at 4-5 in the first set Saturday and eventually made it past No.26 seed and two-time Indian Wells winner Daniela Hantuchova in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, 76(2) 64.

“Every win is important,” said Dinara, who has won back-to-back matches for the first time since last September. “This definitely feels good. I tried very hard and was fighting. I pulled out the set points then started to play a little better.”

After going 0-3 during this year’s Australian season, Dinara had a turning point. “I went to Moscow for Fed Cup and said to my mom, ‘I’m retiring. I don’t want any more of this.’ I wasn’t happy being on the court anymore. She told me to stay positive. I do love the sport. And I still believed. When you have some bad moments and your head is falling down, if you believe, you can say it’s just not your day and you’re going to keep working hard. You never give up.

“My mother is the person who knows me. I could really speak about what I had deep inside. I knew it would hurt her, but I couldn’t keep it inside anymore.”

Next up for Dinara, who beat Arantxa Parra Santonja in straight sets in the first round, is Samantha Stosur. She is 3-1 all-time against the Australian.

March 6, 2011

Doubles Title No.9 For Dinara

Filed under: News — admin @ 10:00 am

Dinara was victorious in this week’s BMW Malaysian Open doubles event.

Dinara and Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva, playing a tournament together for the first time, hung tough in Sunday’s final against Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Jessica Moore, 19 and 20 years old, respectively, dropping the middle set but surging ahead 5-0 in the match tie-break and never looking back, 75 26 105.

“It’s definitely always nice to win a tournament,” Dinara said in her post-match presser. “I’m kind of on the way back because I was injured all last year. I’m trying to play as many matches as I can, singles and doubles. So I’m pretty happy with this week – it had been a long time since I last played doubles, too.”

Dinara won her ninth WTA doubles title, her first since Indian Wells almost exactly three years ago (where she won with Elena Vesnina). It was her first WTA title of any kind since Portoroz in July 2009 (and first final of any kind since Cincinnati that summer, where she was runner-up to Jelena Jankovic).

Asked about her goals moving forward, Dinara said she hasn’t set any. “I just want to go out there and enjoy each match. When you’re injured it’s hard to enjoy yourself; now I’m free of injuries I can do that. I have a smile again.”

Through To Doubles Final In Kuala Lumpur

Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva are into the doubles final at the BMW Malaysian Open, having defeated Shuko Aoyama and Chan Chin-Wei, 75 64, on Friday.

Dinara and Voskoboeva were down 5-4 in the first set and 4-2 in the second, but rallied to win both of them. Their opponents in Sunday’s final will be the winner of Saturday’s match between Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Jessica Moore and Lu Jing-Jing and Xu Yi-Fan.

This will be Dinara’s first doubles final since she won Indian Wells in 2008 with Elena Vesnina. Vozkoboeva’s last doubles final occurred at Gold Coast in 2007 alongside Iveta Benesova.

Dinara Falls In Round 2 In Malaysia

Fifth-seeded Lucie Safarova knocked Dinara out of the BMW Malaysian Open, 63 46 63, in Thursday’s second round action.

Safarova raised her career record against Dinara to 3-2 and also snapped a two-match losing streak versus the Russian.

Dinara, who will play in Indian Wells next week, is still alive in the doubles in Kuala Lumpur, as she will play her semifinal on Friday alongside Galina Voskoboeva against Shuko Aoyama and Chan Chin-Wei. 

Dinara Into Doubles SFs in Malaysia

Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva beat No.4 seeds Maria Elena Camerin and Darya Kustova, 76(1) 46 104, to reach the semifinals in doubles at the BMW Malaysian Open.

It was not easy, though, as Dinara and Voskoboeva had to fight off a set point on Camerin’s serve at 6-5 in the first set before prevailing and eventually winning the quarterfinal in a match tie-break.

This is the furthest Dinara has been in a doubles event since capturing Indian Wells in 2008 alongside Elena Vesnina. She will play her second round singles match against No.5 seed Lucie Safarova on Thursday.

Dinara Dominant In First Round Win

Dinara, seeking to put an injury-plagued 2010 behind her, got her first singles win of the year Tuesday in her first match since the Australian Open, routing Han Xinyun, 62 60, in 53 minutes in the first round of the BMW Malaysian Open.

Dinara, who was on serve at 2-1 down, did not drop a game the rest of the way in advancing to an intriguing second round match-up against Lucie Safarova, against whom she is 2-2.

Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva will play their quarterfinal doubles match Wednesday against No.4 seeds Maria Elena Camerin and Darya Kustova.

Dinara Gets Doubles Win In Kuala Lumpur

Playing her first match since she hired new coach Davide Sanguinetti after the Australian Open, Dinara was victorious in her first round doubles match at the BMW Malaysian Open on Monday.

Wildcards Dinara and Galina Voskoboeva, teaming up for the first time, took out Indonesians Jessy Rompies and Lavinia Tananta, 64 64, and will next take on No.4 seeds Maria Elena Camerin and Darya Kustova.

Dinara will take on China’s Han Xinyun in her singles opener on Tuesday.

January 20, 2011

Dinara Downed In Melbourne

Filed under: News — admin @ 10:00 am

Third-seeded Kim Clijsters was on fire in her first round match against Dinara at the Australian Open, winning, 60 60, in 44 minutes.

Clijsters fired 17 winners to just four errors to hand Dinara – a fellow former No.1 but now No.75 – the first double bagel loss of her career.

“I didn’t know how to win a point,” Dinara said. “I was looking forward to this match. We’ve played many times. I wanted to go out there and play my game and see what happened. But today she was just cruising and cruising.”

“She didn’t get to No.1 just by luck,” Clijsters said of Dinara. “The game is still there. She just has to win a few matches, a few tough matches, then build some more confidence.”

Dinara had lost first round in both of her lead-up tournaments, including a 60 61 loss to Marion Bartoli in Hobart last week.

“I guess I had the same feeling as last week when I won one game, except this week I didn’t even win one game,” Dinara said. “I’ve been doing two months of pre-season. I’m fully motivated. I cannot say I didn’t practice hard. But I guess something was not right. I have to figure out the answers. There are no secrets. I’ve always believed in hard work. But it’s not about the hours. I need to find the right way to work. I will give my hundred percent to get back.”

Dinara, who said her back was not an issue, lost her first round doubles match Thursday alongside Kateryna against No.6 seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 62 64.

January 10, 2011

Dinara Defeated In Hobart

Filed under: News — admin @ 12:40 pm

Top seed Marion Bartoli beat Dinara in the first round of the Moorilla Hobart International on Monday night, the world No.17 proving too tough for the former world No.1, 60 61.

Bartoli, who is now 3-0 all-time against Dinara, felt the scoreline wasn’t an accurate reflection of the match.

“It’s not like she played badly,” the Frenchwoman said. “Some games were really tight and went my way but the scoreline could have been much tighter… I thought it was really a Top 15 match, and it wasn’t only my level, she was playing really well.”

Dinara, who was playing in Hobart for just the second time, will be in action again next week at the Australian Open.

January 4, 2011

Dinara Falls in First Match of 2011

Filed under: News — admin @ 3:35 pm

It was a match-up worthy of a final, but unfortunately for former No.1 Dinara, her ASB Classic opener was against a defending champion in no mood to loosen her grip on the trophy. Yanina Wickmayer, back as the No.2 seed, dropped the second set in a tie-break before dismissing the Russian, 63 67(2) 61.

World No.23 Wickmayer came out swinging to take the first set, and had her chances to close it out in the second, however the 63rd-ranked Dinara, who was playing in Auckland for the first time, dug deep to force a tie-break.

But although little separated the pair on first serve – Dinara hit her mark 71 percent of the time, to Wickmayer’s 74 percent – the Belgian’s superior returning soon restored her momentum. The 21-year-old broke Dinara in the second game of the decider, and after struggling to hold her own serve in the sixth, fatally snapped the Russian’s resistance with another break.

Afterwards, a compassionate Wickmayer said she was “sad” to have beaten Dinara in their first career match-up.

“She deserves to come back and get back her top ranking,” the Belgian said. “It was tough, I thought she played well. I thought we both played a good level of tennis, so it was a nice match to start off the year – a tough one.”

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