Is Safina the next numero uno?
With Dinara Safina’s win over the weekend in Tokyo she moved up to a career high of #3 in the world and is now only 344 points behind current #1 Serena Williams. This puts her in a position to make a run for the top spot if she can continue to play at her current level.
Let’s take a look back at her year. She began 2008 ranked #15 in the world and having never been past the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam. She didn’t come out of the gates red hot, as she fell in the first round of the Australian Open and didn’t get to the quarters of any tournament until Miami (late March). It was at Berlin in mid-May where she made her mark. Oddly enough she beat Justine Henin in the third round, in what turned out to be the last match of her career, then defeated Serena Williams Victoria Azarenka, and Elena Dementieva to claim the title.
She used that momentum to catapult herself into the finals of the French Open. Despite the loss, she didn’t let that deter her. She won two out of the next four tournaments she played in, went to the finals of the Olympics, the semis of the US Open, and then won the aforementioned tourney in Tokyo. Beginning with the tournament in Berlin she has an amazing 42-5 record.
So, will she overtake Jelena and Serena in the top spot? Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost to Safina in the finals at Tokyo seems to think so. She said that Dinara has bigger strokes than Jelena and plays more than Serena which will help her garner more points. To me, it comes down to her mental preparation. Like her elder brother Marat, she is known to get a little mad and that can really throw her off her game. If she can remain focused like she has in the past couple of months I see no reason why she can’t challenge those girls for the top spot.
I will say that when Serena is on there is no one better, and when Jelena is moving at her best no one can play defense like her. Safina certainly has her work cut out for her, but I could see her moving into the poll position by the end of 2008.
What do you think?