Safina Suffers Humiliating Loss to China's Li
Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:31 AM ET
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By Barnaby Chesterman
ESTORIL, Portugal (Reuters) - Russian Dinara Safina suffered a humiliating 6-1, 6-1 defeat to Li Na in the Estoril Open clay-court tournament semifinals Saturday.
The number two seed held serve only once and made a string of unforced errors as she succumbed in one hour to Li, the fourth seed who had not played on clay since she was a child.
Safina prowled around the court in obvious discontent throughout the match, frequently yelling out loud to try to spark her game into life.
After the match she said it was time to return to Russian coach Alexander Zlatoustov who parted company with Safina after the Australian Open in January.
"Even before this tournament I was thinking of going back to my Russian coach and now I'm telling him I am breaking it off," Safina told reporters.
"After the Australian Open, my Russian coach broke up with me because I wasn't listening to him.
"My agents offered me Lars and I said yes because I needed a coach."
It has not worked out with the Swede, however, and Safina says she is going backwards.
"We are not working on what I need to improve," she said. "I need to work on my serve and my forehand and I need to work to improve but I'm not improving, I'm getting worse." Safina was so unhappy with her form all week that despite three comfortable victories she went straight on to the practice courts after each match.