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Mar 25th, 2006, 05:24 PM


Be warned. The Russians are coming.

No less then ten players from the former Communist superpower occupied the top 100 at the end of last season - and now they are preparing for an assault on the game's elite.

Anastasia Myskina is currently the highest ranked Russian at number 11.

But you wonder whether Myskina has the game to push on from there. Cracking the top five is a tough thing to do as the likes of Silvia Farina Elia and Meghann Shaughnessy have discovered.

Elena Dementieva and Anna Kournikova are Russians who fit into that 'nearly' category.

While they look to be on the way down, Elena Bovina is a player who has flown up the ranking list and she should soon break into the top 20.

It would also be unfair to rule out a rapid rise for Nadia Petrova, a player of whom much was expected in this column 12 months ago.

However, after a fine first couple of weeks of the year, the Russian suffered a foot injury which kept her out for seven months.

On her return, Petrova, 20, thrashed Martina Hingis in Moscow - not the result it once was but not bad all the same - and should be ready to soar up from her current position of 112.

One player who is guaranteed to earn plenty of headlines is Dinara Safina. :)

One reason for that is that Safina is the younger sister of men's world number three Marat Safin.

But she is also a player capable of letting her tennis do the talking and expect her to be one of the big movers on the rankings this term.

Safina has already made an impact on the tour, reaching the semi-finals in Estoril on her tour debut.

A first WTA title followed on the clay of Sopot, while a first Grand Slam match win was achieved when Rita Grande was beaten at the US Open.

Using her family power, Safina also recorded wins over decent players in Cristina Torrens Valero and her biggest victim to date, world number 17 Elia.

Bigger names will now be wary of the 16-year-old but she has the ability to keep making waves.

A win over a top-ten player could well follow at some stage this season, while breaking into the top 30 looks a realistic aim.

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Safina making her own mark
Monday, 13 January, 2003
by Barry Levinson


With eight players currently ranked in the women's top 50, Russia is having a big influence on the WTA Tour.

Another bright Russian-prospect, 16 year-old Dinara Safina, is not in the top 50 yet, but it's likely to be only a matter of time - even if she doesn't think so herself.

Safina is the younger sister of men's world No.3 Marat Safin and shares her brother's trait of being quite self deprecating after a defeat.

Despite her tender years, Safina took her own world ranking up to No.68 last season, after less than a year on the WTA Tour.

Currently ranked at No.70, Safina had high hopes before her first-ever appearance at the Australian Open, heading into Monday's first-round match against Slovakian No.32 seed Katarina Srebotnik.

Watched on by her support crew, which included her mother and coach Raouza Islanova and famous brother, the Russian began well in the match on court 10, claiming the first set 6-3.

But after the conclusion of the first set, Marat left to hit the practice courts and the tide turned in favour of the higher-ranked Srebotnik, who went on to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-3 and claim the match.

Call it a coincidence, but Safina did not look quite as assured on the court after her brother disappeared. And despite the credentials of her opponent, the Russian was far from happy with her performance.

"I'm not playing very good right now," she said. "I don't have a lot of confidence and I'm not happy with how I played today." Asked what she needs to improve in her game, she replied: "Everything".

"I was practising really hard and I came here with the confidence and now I don't know. I've lost two first-rounds and I don't know what's happening. I'm playing not bad, but not enough to beat these players."

As well as losing in the first-round here, Safina was knocked out in the first-round of last week's Canberra Women's Classic by world No.46 Laura Granville of the United States, also in three sets.

Safina is a tall girl (1.82 metres) and possesses a high bouncing serve and powerful groundstrokes, not unlike her bother. However, she herself doesn't believe that their games are very similar now, although she would like them to be.

"We have different games," Safina concluded. He plays much more aggressive than me. I'm trying to do it, but how I'm playing now, I'm playing so bad."

Safina did not make her debut on the WTA Tour until last April, when her ranking stood at No.404. Three months later, her ranking was already down to No.169 and she won her first title at Sopot in Poland, including a victory over current world No.15 Patty Schnyder.

But the Russian believes that being able to maintain her ranking this year will prove more difficult than making her way up the list last year.

"I was playing good last year. Because it was my first year I didn't have to defend anything (ranking points) so that's why I was going up. We'll see this year, I don't know."

But her frame of mind at the time of our interview suggested she has modest ambitions for 2003.

"This year, if I finish top 100, I'll be happy, because the way I'm playing, I'm not happy, so if I finish top 100, that will be a big relief," she said.

The brother and sister were always going to be tennis players. Aside from their mother being a tennis coach, their father is the director of a tennis club in their native Moscow. And the youngster is quite happy forging a career for herself on the courts and can't imagine herself doing anything else.

Safina doesn't get to see her brother play very often. The Grand Slams are a rare opportunity for them to offer visible support to each other. And Safina thinks she can learn much from the way her brother plays and will be there when he takes to the court against the Netherlands' Raimon Sluiter on Tuesday.

"He's playing great. How he serves, the way he's playing, everything I like from him," she says.

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:27 PM
Getting To Know… Dinara Safina - from July, 2003 -

The "Getting To Know…" subjects of the past two weeks have more things in common than what you would initially think. Not only do Italian veteran Silvia Farina Elia and Russian teenager Dinara Safina have (almost) rhyming surnames, they’ve both enjoyed Tour singles victories recently (Farina Elia at Strasbourg in May and Safina last week in Palermo) and they also share the same birthday - 27 April - albeit 14 years apart.

That may be where the similarities end, with 31-year-old Farina Elia nearing the end of her career and the 17-year-old Safina, a Moscow native, just starting out on hers.

Safina, sister of former ATP world No.1 and US Open champion Marat Safin, played her first Tour main draw in Estoril last year, reaching the semifinals. In just her fourth Tour event, the Idea Prokom Open in Sopot, Poland, Safina became the first qualifier in nearly three years and the youngest player in more than four years (16 years, three months) to win a singles title.

An impressive debut season on the WTA Tour concluded with a No.68 ranking, up from No.394 at the start of the year.

Safina’s Sopot title defence is just two weeks away, so what better way to prepare for that than to get the winning feeling back?

After a moderate start to 2003, reaching one quarterfinal (Doha) and qualifying for Dubai, Berlin and Rome, Safina stormed through the field at last week’s Internazionali Femminili di Palermo. Not dropping a set en route to her second career title, Safina defeated Katarina Srebotnik in final, becoming the fourth different Russian to win a Tour singles title so far in 2003.

Notes & Netcords spoke with Dinara Safina, who debuts in the Top 50 this week, during her title run in Palermo.

You played on grass at Wimbledon, this week on clay, and soon on the hard courts. Is it difficult to change surfaces like that?

No, not really. It depends on my preparations for each tournament, but I can play on all surfaces. It really depends on my condition and if I’ve had time to prepare for each surface. If I don’t have a lot of practice on a surface, then it may be difficult.

You have won your second WTA Tour title. Knowing that you already have one title, did it take the pressure off when going for your second?

No, I didn’t really think about that. I just wanted to think about winning this one.

This year, you made your debuts at the first three Grand Slams, the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. You have already played at the US Open. If you could win only one, which one would it be?

Well, I like mostly all of them. I like the French, Wimbledon and US Open, but I think I would want to win the US Open because my brother won there.

Tennis is obviously in your family. Your mother coaches you, your father directs a tennis club, and your brother plays on the men’s Tour. How has that helped you?

They give me good advice because they have a lot of experience. My brother gave me lots of advice when I was younger and getting started. But now, we don’t talk about tennis too much because we don’t always want to be talking about tennis. It would probably make us crazy! But I do like it when he watches my matches.

When you were younger, who were some of your idols?

It was usually the person who was winning (dominating), especially at the Grand Slams. So, first it was Steffi Graf and then it was Martina Hingis and then Lindsay Davenport.

You’re 17 and one of the up-and-comers on the Tour. What is one of your major goals for this year?

I don’t really have one goal in particular except to enjoy playing.

You grew up in Spain. What was that like? Do you speak a lot of Spanish?

All of my family was there, so it was OK. It was easy there. I don’t really speak a lot of Spanish.

As you know, the Russian players on the Tour are getting lots of attention. You seem to get along with many of them and spend a lot of time with them. Is it more difficult for you to play against them?

We practice together sometimes or go to dinner together, but it isn’t more difficult to play them because in a match, I see them as just like any other player.

You said that one of your hobbies is going to the cinema, what is your favorite movie?

I don’t know. I don’t think I really have one. The last movie I saw was the Jim Carrey movie, "Bruce Almighty." I like him a lot. I don’t know what the English titles are for his movies, but I think he is really funny.

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:27 PM
Thanks Goldenlox!! :D

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:28 PM
Marat speaks about Dinara :

AO 2004
Q: Your sister's playing here. She won this morning. Do you go, do
you see any of her matches? Do you talk to her about your tennis at
all or is it a very different..

Marat: Yeah but she has the coach and she has the mother. I mean the
coach, the mother is the mother, and they take care of her, outside
of the court, but she has a coach .. it's his job to explain to her
and improve her game. I'm just I'm also playing and I don't want to
be involved in these kind of things.. it's not the right thing to
do. You have to give the respect to the guy who is working with her,
right now so she will have to.. she will have to understand, and
realize what she needs for her tennis, and she has to start thinking
a little bit her way. And what she likes and what she wants and who
she wants to become. Because she's in a difficult age, I mean she's
gonna be 18 and she's really still young, and she has a lot of
things to improve, but improve by herself. She has to realize that
because, you cannot explain to the kid how she has to be and how she
wants...how.. what she has to do. She has to.. day by day and week
by week and then she will learn.

Q: You're her big brother and I'm sure she looks up to you...

Marat: Thank you.

Q: Do you give her any advice away from the court?

Marat: No, it's .. I leave everything on her. You have to make some
mistakes by yourself. It's better to make your mistake by yourself
than uh.. learning somebody's mistakes because it's difficult to
learn somebody's mistakes, until you realize that by yourself um..
what you need and what mistakes you've done. Then you realize what
you have to do. So, it's ok, it's ok if she's making a couple of
mistkes, no problem. Everybody does.

Q: True

Marat: (laughs)

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:28 PM
Dinara stepping out of the shadowby Luke Buttigieg
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Having been only 14 when her older brother Marat Safin won the US Open in 2000, Dinara Safina could have been forgiven for feeling under pressure to match his results when she made her WTA Tour debut less than six months later.

But having emerged in recent times as one of the most exciting young talents in the women's game, Safina has shown that Marat is not the only member of the family blessed when it comes to tennis.

The 17-year-old already has two titles to her name - at Sopot (2002) and Palermo (2003) - and having also broken into the top 50 for the first time last year, she says she is happy carving out her own name in the sport.

"I am in my third year on the tour now, so it's not really a problem for me," she said when asked if Marat's success had placed any extra pressure on her. "In my first year things were difficult, but I'm fine with things now, I have no worries."

Having enjoyed her best Grand Slam result at last year's US Open - when she reached the fourth-round - Safina was unable to match that effort at the Australian Open, going down 6-2 6-1 to Belgian No.2 seed Kim Clijsters at Vodafone Arena on Saturday.

With Marat choosing to stay away rather than be a possible jinx, Safina admitted after the defeat that silly errors had played a big part, as she held her serve just once from seven attempts.

"I just didn't play my best today, I made too many easy mistakes and they cost me," Safina said. "I played OK for the first five games, but lost concentration after that.

"I'm happy with how I have played this week, last year I lost in the first round but this year it was in the third round. I've learned to play a bit better and to fight more since last year.

"Marat didn't come and watch me play, he said he would be too nervous to sit there," she added of her sibling, who is through to the fourth round after winning a five-set thriller against American Todd Martin on Friday. "He just said to me 'go and play your best'."

One of the new breed of Russian women taking the tour by storm these days, Safina said she and her fellow players have a lot to thank compatriot Anna Kournikova for, even if she never won a singles title before a chronic back injury forced her off the tour.

"She was a top 10 player, and made the semi-finals at Wimbledon, so I think she did a lot for the women's game," Safina said. "People come to watch our game now, but that wasn't always the case before."

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:34 PM
Australian Tennis Magazine – November 2002; Special Siblings Edition

Dinara Safina: Growing and Glowing in the Giant’s Shadow

Marat Safin might be a big star but incredibly, it’s sister Dinara, who’s just 16 and not even competing full time yet, who can boast bigger on-court success this year (2002).

Vivienne Christie Reports

When 16-year old Russian Dinara Safina became the first qualifier and youngest player in history to win the Sopot Open in Poland, the thought that she’d managed to do something her world number 2 brother Marat Safin hadn’t managed all year – win a tournament – didn’t seem to cross her mind. She was too busy actually calling Marat to tell him the good news to even think of that. And then she had another tricky problem to address.

“He often bought me gifts after he won tournaments,” Safina told Reuters. “So now after telling him that I won, I have to think what to give him as a present. He already had many things he needs, so I must really think hard to make it a lasting memory.”

Not that Dinara seems to have anything to worry about in the “lasting memory” department. At 14, she was already being touted as the new Anna Kournikova (she also gave something of her killer attitude away when she announced to a group of reporters that she didn’t want to emulate Kournikova “because she hasn’t won anything yet.”).

Now, with her first title filed comfortably, she has risen from 394 to 70 in the world rankings and grown to a height of 182 cm this year. It seems only a matter of time before the young Russian with the heavy groundstrokes is giving the power hitter a run for the money.

Playing her first main draw Grand Slam event, Dinara upset higher-ranked Rita Grande in the first round of this year’s (2002) US Open before an unfortunate second round meeting with hotter-than-ever Serena Williams, who annihilated her younger opponent 6-0 6-1. But even that experience will ultimately prove a worthwhile one for Safina.

“Come on, she’s 16 years old. When I was 16, I was playing satellites in Spain. I was staying in a hotel for $15 a night,” insisted Marat when asked to interpret his sister’s experience. “Every 16-year-old guy is just starting to play satellites, not even close. They’re playing national tournaments, which is the lowest thing in the world”.

“And she’s 16 years old, playing Serena, number 1 in the world, centre court and the people are watching. You play satellites, the people, they don’t even watch. They have no linesmen even.”

In New York Marat stressed to his sister that at such a young age, it is important to keep her ambitions in check. “The most important thing is to enjoy tennis, not just play,” he said. “To enjoy (and) have fun is what I want for my sister.”

Which is a sentiment that Safina’s mother and coach, rauza Islanova, who was a top ten player in the former Soviet Union in the 1960’s and 70’s echoes. “The Sopot win was a huge morale-booster for Dinara, but obviously she is not yet ready to tackle dominant players like the Williams sisters or Capriati on a daily basis,” Islanova told Reuters.

“Bt we’re not in a rush. It’s not like we have set a time for Dinara to mover into the top 100 this year and into the top 50 or 40 next year. Actually, I think she is already a bit ahead of what was expected of her.”

For the moment, Dinara can enjoy the milestones she’s so far achieved, which included reaching the Wimbledon junior girl’s final last year (2001). The win in Sopot not only netted $US50, 000 in prize money but also adde to her existing endorsements (like Marat she has a long-term deal with Adidas).

“In the past, it was Marat who mostly sponsored her tennis career. But now Dinara can afford to pay her coached and even brings home some money,” says Islanova.

While she’s clearly made an impact on the Sanex WTA tour, Dinara is not yet old enough to play a full schedule, which means choosing her tournaments carefully and focusing on practice. Islanova says there is still plenty of work for her daughter to do in developing more power, working on her footwork and improving her speed if she’s going to challenge the world’s top players.

Rather than racking up matches on the junior circuit, Islanova is directing Dinara to spend more time practicing at the tennis academy in Valencia Spain, where Marat also honed much of hit ability as a youngster.

“It doesn’t make much sense now. Junior tennis is completely different game, and it’s hard to adjust, switching from one to the other,” Islanova explained. “Besides, after reaching the Wimbledon girl’s final last year, Dinara has little to gain from playing junior events now.”

And although she’d clearly not your average 16-year-old, Dinara still has to contend with many of the same things as other teenagers – including homework. With the Safin family maintaining residences in both Russia and Spain, she is currently taking correspondence courses form a Moscow school. As soon as she returned form the US Open, Dinara had to contend with exams.

“Tennis is her top priority, but she is doing fine in school as well,” says Islanova, who is proud of all of her daughter’s successes. “She is fluent in two languages, Spanish and Russian, and is also learning English at the moment.”

Whether Dinara turns out to be as colourful in the language department as her immensely quotable older brother is not yet known, but it is clear she shares his talent. Not that she’s about to start offering advice to her brother on how to break his title drought. “Oh no, I wouldn’t dare teach or even tell him what to do,” Dinara stresses. “I’m his biggest fan and I still look up to him tennis-wise. I think it’s just a matter of time before he starts winning again.”

Mar 25th, 2006, 05:58 PM
Safin tells sister she missed the train
By Emma Quayle
January 20, 2005

Dinara Safina felt all sorts of heat yesterday. First, there was the burden that builds when all 14 Russian women entered in this grand slam had won through to round two; an impressive statistic but one that meant someone, sometime, had to lose.

Then there was Amelie Mauresmo, the world No. 2, and the opponent trying to make her the first one to go.

Finally, there was her big brother, Marat Safin, who saw most of the match from his hotel and saw "another train" of opportunity pass Safina by and spent most of his post-match conference telling her just that.

The 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 score sheet suggested Mauresmo was unsettled by Safina on her way to the third round, but there were things it could not say.

A sluggish start became something more authoritative for the second seed by the end of a dropped first set, and she conceded just one game for the rest of the match.

"I put pressure," her opponent later lamented, "but not enough. Not every ball."

Still, Safina felt some satisfaction at how far she made Mauresmo stretch. It was the 18-year-old who got the game going yesterday, hunching her shoulders over baseline balls and smacking them ferociously at her French opponent, who looked troubled but was probably making wiser use of her energy.

Where Mauresmo steadied, Safina's exertion exhausted her. She had barely enough energy to clench her fist as she secured the first set 6-2. Her on-court personality is not as overt as her brother's, but it was only after she started to looked tired that her shots appeared a bit sleepy, too.

She is starting to learn, she said later, that what she holds back on, and hides from her opponents, might be as important as what she tries to show them. "I have to have a good serve, and a forehand, because I missed a lot of shots with my forehand," Safina said. " I was taking too much risk with the backhand, for sure. I have to learn to play baseline and to play baseline for three hours."

Easy wins for Serena Williams and Jarkko Nieminem on Vodafone Arena meant Safin did not have to wait long to get on the same court on which Safina was beaten, and he made such simple work of Bohdan Ulihrach that he could spend more post-match time assessing his sister's performance than his own.

Having reeled off his own (numerous) teenage achievements - "basically, I'm having a pretty decent career" - Safin said it was time Safina started thinking for herself, finding some character and learning to scratch and fight like the other Russian girls.

There will be no lessons taught in a mixed doubles team; the time for family charity, said Safin, was up. "She has to grow up, you know, be a little responsible for the things that she is doing and the decisions she is making," he said.

"For some reason she cannot make any decisions, she needs somebody to explain everything. She is a little bit young and I know everybody is saying to her, she has a big future in front of her.

"She's my sister. It's just a little bit sad to see, to sit back and watch this train pass. She has to run away when I told her already: 'Take this train, you know, like before it's gonna be too late.'

"But I'm sorry, if you don't really understand yourself what's going on, it's a little bit difficult for somebody to fix it and explain it. Nobody can tell her what to do, she has to decide for herself. It's my duty to help her, but if she doesn't want to listen . . ."


Mar 25th, 2006, 06:17 PM
Safina : « Marat and I… »


Still engaged in both singles and doubles competitions, Dinara Safina is doing well in this 13th Open Gaz de France. But the young and talented Russian is also Marat Safin’s little sister and she has to deal with this comparison everyday.

Your brother made tough comments about you at the Australian Open. Did it bother you ?
Just a little bit…(laughters) We have had some private problems before that and he told me that he didn’t really mean what he said. It was a misunderstanding. He said something one way and the medias understood it another way. But, you know, I’m used to it. It’s Marat…

Why didn’t you go to Moscow to celebrate Marat’s victory with your family ?
Because I came back from Australia before him and I had to go to Monte Carlo for a few days. I am an official resident here and I have to be there a specific number of days in the year to make it legal.

How hard is it to live in the shadow of your brother ?
It is very difficult because a lot of people expect of me. They want me to be as good as my brother, but I am not ! He is much better than me. Even if I am younger, time is going fast and I have a lot of pressure on me because I am Marat Safin’s sister. I would love to play as well as him but it’s more difficult for me.

Your brother has a strong personality. It’s not very frequent in the world of tennis…
He is not crazy like many people think. He has changed a little bit now but he still has his character. He is a lot of fun and I think people like that. If I was a tennis fan coming to watch a game, I would get bored if no one was showing emotions or joy or excitement or angriness. People love Marat when he breaks his rackets. Nobody does it like he does (laughters)! That is part of the show.

What do you have in common with Marat ?
Many people think that we don’t look like each other. And it’s true that we are not exactly the same physically. Speaking for the character, we look a lot like each other. For exemple we react the same when we lose: no one can talk to us for two or three hours. My father was like that. Marat and me are the same…

Do you get along well with him ?
It depends on what we are talking about. If we speak about tennis, it always finishes with a fight. But we are very close to each other and everytime we play in the same tournament we eat together every night. Well, at least we try… Marat is so busy sometimes… (laughters)

Mar 25th, 2006, 06:20 PM
Safina shocks Mauresmo to win Paris title

Sun Feb 13,12:13 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - Russian teenager Dinara Safina shocked second seed Amelie Mauresmo of France to claim her third career title at the 585,000-dollar Paris Indoor Open title.

Safina, 18, sister of Australian Open champion Marat Safin, achieved the biggest win of her career at the expense of 25-year-old Mauresmo, the 2001 champion, and holder of 15 career titles.

The unseeded Russian came away a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 winner after 2hr 20min on court at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium to lift the winner's cheque of 93,000 dollars.

"To win my first big match against Amelie, she's a top five player, it's unbelieveable! You cannot imagine how happy I am," said Safina whose previous combined earnings amounted to just over 608,000 dollars.

Safina avenged her 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 defeat to the world number four in their only previous meeting in the second round of the Australian Open last month.

And the 47th-ranked Russian revealed that she had gotten a ticking off from her brother after falling in Melbourne.

"He was a bit angry with me. He told me 'you don't fight'," said Safina.

"I'm going to tell him now 'see I fight!"."

Safina had bounced back from losing her opening service game, breaking her more experienced opponent three times in the first set which she wrapped up in just under an hour when Mauresmo double faulted.

Mauresmo, who converted just two of six break point chances in the first set, got back with a break again in the opening game of the second set, and rushed to a 5-1 lead, to level proceedings 6-2 after 1hr 36min of play.

But Safina took control in the third, breaking twice for 5-1.

Signs of nerves set in, however, and she lost her service game to love while serving for the match.

The Muscovite did not hesitate when serving again for the match, taking the tie after a long rally on her first match point.

Safina, a semi-finalist here last year who won her previous titles in lower tier events in Sopot in 2002 and Palermo in 2003, believes that pressure of being the home favourite had gotten to Mauresmo.

"I knew Amelie was feeling pressure and I said: 'I just have to go for it'," said the Russian who was competing in just her fourth final.

A defensive Mauresmo insisted: "I don't think it's mental. I feel the difference was made in the first set when I had several chances to break her. Once I lost my service early in the third set it was hard to get back."

"There's no doubt about it, she deserved to win. I just didn't have what it takes today," added Mauresmo after her fourth Paris final.

She was previously twice runner-up to Serena Williams in 1999 and 2003, but missed last year's event through injury.

Mar 25th, 2006, 06:21 PM
Ура! Динара Сафина подхватила триумфальное настроение брата Марата — выиграла крупный турнирhttp://www.mk.ru/numbers/1500/p-2-3.jpghttp://www.mk.ru/images_new/spacer.gifНАТАЛЬЯ ЧЕТВЕРИКОВА Причем в финале отправила в нокдаун знаменитую француженку Амели Моресмо. У нее же дома — в Париже! Напомню, что Марат Сафин недавно выиграл финал Открытого чемпионата Австралии тоже у хозяина корта, Ллейтона Хьюита. Похоже, это уже становится семейной традицией...
Корреспондент “МК” дозвонилась Динаре и ее маме Раузе Ислановой, как только свершилось счастливое событие.
— Динара, признайся, боялась выходить против Моресмо?
— Думаю, это она меня боялась. Ведь в Австралии я у нее выиграла первый сет довольно легко. А сейчас, стоило мне немного смягчить несколько ударов, как Амели тут же начала меня “кушать”. И тут уж я тактику резко изменила: стала играть жестче, рисковать.
— Но то была Австралия, а в Париже Амели поддерживали родные стены...
— Это естественно. Но я стараюсь не обращать внимания на давление трибун. Иначе играть просто невозможно!
— Похоже, австралийская победа брата здорово тебя простимулировала?
— Конечно. Тем более что нового тренера, с которым я сейчас работаю, посоветовал мне не кто иной, как Петер Лундгрен — коуч Марата. Его зовут Ларс-Андерс Валгрен, он тоже швед. Кажется, это именно тот человек, который был мне нужен. Я так долго его ждала...
А Рауза Исланова на этот раз болела за дочку в Москве. И это меня искренне удивило, ведь Динара никогда еще никуда без мамы не ездила.
— Что-то случилось? Почему вы остались в Москве?
— Я сильно болела. Меня и в Австралию врачи не отпустили. И Марат с Динарой как-то так вместе решили, что я должна перестать быть их тренером и стать просто мамой.
— Знаете, Динара как-то говорила, что достал ее уже этот теннис, хочется стать обычной свободной девчонкой, учиться, жить, как все. Как думаете, это она в пылу эмоций сказала?
— Вы не представляете, до какого отчаяния она доходила. Так переживала из-за того, что не шла игра. Иногда просто жить не хотелось! И она все говорила: “Мамочка, что же это, я ведь так этот теннис люблю, столько сил ему отдаю, а ничего не получается, так мне не везет! Ну почему?!” Она была как нераскрывшийся цветок. И нужен был профессионал, который помог бы лепесткам распуститься.
— Но почему именно тренер Марата принял такое участие в ее судьбе?
— Знаете, он как-то сразу проникся симпатией к нашей семье. И очень любит Динару. Петер видел, как она мучается, и искренне переживал, иногда даже давал какие-то советы.
— Этот швед молодой?
— Ларсу 38 лет, он на два года младше Петера. Очень симпатичный, со светлыми волосами. Думаю, Динарке приятно с ним работать, он вселил в нее уверенность, которой ей изрядно не хватало.
— Он будет ездить с ней по всем турнирам?
— Конечно. Он все время рядом, все сорганизовывает. А предыдущий тренер даже насчет транспорта и тренировочных кортов договориться не мог.
— Динара вообще мягкая по натуре?
— Да нет, она кусачая.
— Вас не обижает?
— Что вы, она очень меня любит. Все время, когда мы не вместе, пишет трогательные эсэмэски на мобильный.

Mar 25th, 2006, 06:26 PM

Как мы уже сообщали, в минувшее воскресенье Динара Сафина победила на турнире в Праге. Сразу после этого корреспондент "СЭ" Елена РЕРИХ позвонила россиянке в гостиницу:

- Трудно далась эта победа?

- Нелегко. Особенно сложными были два последних матча. В полуфинале я играла с испанкой Поус-Тио. Хотя она лишь в прошлом году заявила о себе, мне удалось сломить ее сопротивление только в третьем сете. В финале против Ондрашковой было не легче. Соперница невысоко стоит в рейтинге, но оказалась очень упорной.

- Почему вы выбрали именно этот турнир? Ведь все сильнейшие играли в Риме.

- Я его рассматривала как подготовку к Roland Garros. Необходимо было провести побольше матчей, вот и решила поехать в Прагу.

- Вы следили за ходом турнира в Риме?

- Да. Вера Звонарева и Женя Линецкая там неплохо выступили. Особенно рада за Линецкую. Выход в четвертьфинал для нее хорошее достижение. Пользуясь случаем, поздравляю Женю.

- В Риме победила Амели Моресмо. Вам не хотелось еще раз повторить финал с ней? Глядишь, снова, как и в феврале в Париже, выиграли бы...

- (Смеется.) В Париже мы играли в зале, а не на грунте. Но, думаю, тогда мы не в последний раз встретились с ней в финале.

- Вы наверняка следили и за тем, как в Риме выступала Мария Шарапова. Многие ждали, что она на этой неделе возглавит мировой рейтинг. Не кажется ли вам, что на грунте ей это было сложно сделать?

- Не на этом турнире, так на другом... Все равно в конце года Шарапова наверняка станет первой ракеткой мира. Она очень прилично играет.

- У нас прошло сообщение, что вы опять поменяли тренера. Это правда?

- Да, возвращаюсь к Александру Златоустову. Он уже ждет меня в Валенсии, куда я вылетаю. Совместное решение мы приняли на матче Fed Cup, хотя в принципе я давно хотела сделать это. Хоть и выиграла турнир в Париже вместе со шведом Ларсом Вальгреном, но не считаю, что это его заслуга, и везде так говорю. До Парижа я работала с Сашей, так что победа там принадлежит ему как тренеру. После двух недель работы с Вальгреном я начала разочаровываться в нем, и слава богу, что так все сложилось. После Fed Cup мы со Златоустовым постоянно связывались, он мне помогал советами, объяснял, как против кого надо играть.

- Через неделю стартует Roland Garros. Где собираетесь к нему готовиться?

- Три дня пробуду в Валенсии, а в четверг лечу в Париж.

- Из всех турниров "Большого шлема" какой предпочитаете?

- На первом месте - Австралия, потом - Париж. US Open тоже нравится, а уж потом Уимблдон стоит.

- Как оцениваете свою форму на данный момент?

- Хорошую игру показывала еще в начале мая Берлине. И в Праге старалась играть в свой теннис, постоянно атаковать. Так что буду стараться продолжать в том же духе.

Princess Sarah.
Mar 26th, 2006, 08:53 AM
Thanx for all the articles Goldenlox :yeah:
woohoo finally have a forum!

Apr 14th, 2006, 03:36 PM
Safina Pushed to Limit: Russian Subdues Plucky Qualifier; Her Reward is a Date With Top
By Akilah Imani Nelson, The State, Columbia, S.C.

Apr. 14--CHARLESTON -- Dinara Safina did not need a media guide to tell her what she was up against.

Safina knew that Julia Vakulenko, who isn't even listed in the Ericcson WTA Tour 2006 media guide, could end her shot at the Family Circle Cup title.

Safina knew that the 22-year-old Ukrainian had won two qualifying matches to get into the main draw and beat10th-seeded Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the first round.

Safina, the No. 7 seed, also knew she could not take Vakulenko for granted on the basis of her No. 193 world ranking.

"It doesn't mean she doesn't know how to play," Safina said. "You know, she's a player. She beat the good players, so I think it was (in) my head."

Safina escaped Thursday's third-round match with a 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-2 victory.

"At the beginning, I was dictating what I have to do, but then she started to dictate what she wants," Safina said.

Safina built a 4-0 advantage with long balls and powerful shots in the first set. But Vakulenko rallied by nailing an array of cross-court and down-the-line winners.

Safina was a point away from taking a 5-0 lead, but Vakulenko rallied from love-40 and won the fifth game with a drop-shot winner.

Safina double-faulted eight times in the opening set, and Vakulenko pushed ahead despite getting in 44 percent of her first serves.

With the set tied 6-6, Vakulenko said was playing the kind of game she preferred.

"I really like the tough situations," Vakulenko said. "I can get distracted when it's too easy ... but when it's close, I normally play better."

Vakulenko trailed 5-1 in the tiebreaker, then pulled out five consecutive points en route to winning the set.

"It was a nightmare," Safina said. "I mean, it was not me on the court in the first set. I think it was somebody else."

Against a player proven to be an unrelenting fighter, Safina said all she could do was "stay there and try to find your game, just try to make her run, play her extra ball and keep fighting."

The road only gets rougher for Safina, who plays No. 1 seed and defending Family Circle Cup champion Justine Henin-Hardenne in today's quarterfinals.

"Next match, I have to just forget the first set," Safina said. "That's all."

Apr 14th, 2006, 10:10 PM
"It was a nightmare," Safina said. "I mean, it was not me on the court in the first set. I think it was somebody else."

I wish that "somebody else" would not show up so often. :lol:

Thanks for the article!

May 12th, 2006, 10:21 PM
Safina scalded by Petrova fightback
May 12 2006 at 02:57PM

By Richard Eaton

Berlin - Nadia Petrova, arguably the hottest player on the 2006 WTA Tour, made an outstanding comeback to reach her sixth semi-final of the year at the German Open on Friday.

The second-seeded Russian was a set and 0-3 down in the second set against compatriot Dinara Safina before recovering to win a long drawn out and tiring two-hour 18-minute encounter 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

It was Petrova's 31st victory of the season and her 13th successive win on clay, although it looked very much in doubt for at least an hour, during which she looked jaded and below par.

She was also frequently forced to contain and defend by Safina, who sensed an opportunity to beat her older and more experienced fellow Muscovite, and struck the ball flat and hard and worked her from side to side.

A turning point came in the fifth game of the second set at 15-30 on Safina's serve, when she got a chance to attack a desperate defensive lob from Petrova, and stepped in and took it ambitiously early only to drill a forehand wide.

That gave Petrova a break point which she took with a steadily played rally, and from then on her appetite for the fight noticeably increased.

Petrova nearly broke again immediately, reducing Safina to 15-40 in her next service game, but the big breakthrough came at 4-4 when Petrova came up with a fiercely struck backhand return winner to punish an indifferent second serve on break point.

By then Safina was beginning to shake her head at her inability to convert chances and half way through the third set she was hurling her racket impetuously in the air.

Her frustration never got her into trouble, however, and she caught the descending implement deftly.

Petrova accelerated her already increasing psychological advantage when she broke for 3-2 in the final set with a wonderfully disguised fade forehand drive which caught the sideline, and celebrated by running ostentatiously to her chair.

Safina fought to the end but never looked like retrieving the deficit.

Finally she dropped serve again at 3-5, twice over-hitting on the forehand side which Petrova had been trying to pressurise. - Sapa-AFP

Jun 1st, 2006, 04:11 PM
Safina no longer just Marat's sister :banana:
French Open notebook
PARIS - Dinara Safina grew up overshadowed by her older brother, two-time major champion Marat Safin. Now she's finally making a name for herself.

Safina beat Hana Sromova of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2 Wednesday to move into the third round at the French Open for the first time.

"It was always like, 'Sister of Marat.' And I wanted to prove that I can also play tennis," Safina said. "I was sometimes trying to do too much. But then I relax. I am what I am. I am Dinara."

En route to winning the Australian Open in 2005, Safin told reporters his sister would have to get into better shape if she were going to make it on the WTA Tour.

Safina said her brother didn't merely pass that message along to the media.

"He told me," said Safina, who won titles at the Paris Indoors and Prague tournaments in 2005. "But I also know that I had to be in much better shape to play against top players. I had to be much fitter. I'm working on it, and I'm still working on it."

This year, Safina lost in the final at the Italian Open to Martina Hingis before heading to Roland Garros. She also reached the semifinals at the Gold Coast tournament in Australia, and the quarterfinals at Paris, Antwerp, Indian Wells, Charleston and Berlin.

Now, for the first time in her career, Safina has outlasted her brother at a Grand Slam tournament.

The unseeded Safin, who won the 2000 U.S. Open, is coming off a long hiatus because of a left knee injury. On Tuesday, he lost to ninth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round and skipped a mandatory post-match press conference. He was fined $10,000 for that Wednesday.

"I watch him three sets," Safina said. "And (after the) third set, I left for dinner, so I didn't watch the fourth."

Sep 7th, 2006, 10:28 PM
Dinara Safina on being watched by big brother
By Kamakshi Tandon
07 september 2006

Marat Safin may have exited the US Open one round earlier than little sister Dinara Safina, but he can still count her among his fans.

“He’s real, not fake, and he’s a very open guy,” said Safina earlier this week, explaining Safin’s appeal for tennis fans. “You can see even on the court. If the ball is out, he’s giving the point. Okay, sometimes he get angry or whatever, but people don’t come to see robots on the court.”

Safina has had better results than Safin this year, reaching a career high of No. 13 in the rankings just before the US Open while he sits outside the top 100. But she’s still in awe of her older sibling. “When I was young, he was my idol,” she said.

After having dinner together before the start of the US Open, two haven’t seen much of each other during the tournament – they’re staying in different hotels and their matches have usually been scheduled at different times. The last time Safina watched him play was during his first-round win against Greg Rusedski at Wimbledon.

But relying on second-hand accounts is nothing new for Safina – she missed Safin’s US Open win in 2000 because she had no TV coverage at her training base in Spain. She followed the match through text-message updates from Safin’s then-girlfriend.

Safin has been known to catch Safina’s matches in person when he can, such as in Moscow last October when he was off the tour with injury. Exercising his prerogative, big brother Marat sometimes has advice for little sis.

“He tells me, ‘don’t put pressure [on yourself]’,” said Safina. She feels he’s taught her to be calmer on the court and not get as frustrated by losses – even if it’s sometimes a case of: do as I say, not as I do.

“He say, ‘don’t do this,’” said Safina. “I say, ‘but you’re doing this.’

“He say, ‘I’m telling you this from my experience.’”

Safin criticized his sister publicly at the beginning of last year, suggesting she stop relying on their mother, Rausa, as a coach. Rausa is a tennis instructor who shaped the games of Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva as well as providing early training for Marat and Dinara.

Safina ultimately took Safin’s advice, and now says it’s easier when mom is just mom. Like her brother, she’s gone through her share of coaches but says she’s happy with her current choice of Glenn Schapp.

On Wednesday, Safin and Safina both played – and lost – their early afternoon matches at the US Open. Safin was contesting a delayed fourth-round encounter against Tommy Haas, which he would go onto to lose in a fifth-set tiebreak, while Safina was being dispatched by Amelie Mauresmo. “They showed a couple of times a few shots from her court,” said Safin. “I was following her.”

Safina was sitting in a press conference as Safin entered the later stages of the fifth set. Could she turn the tables and offer him some advice?, she was asked Safina shook her head. “He’s too old.”

Safin agreed. “It would never happen,” he said determinedly.

But her ascendancy has also made it more difficult for him to hold forth. “She’s doing better than me,” he said. “She’s basically on her way to become a Top 10 player in a couple of weeks. So I’m not worried about her. I should worry a little bit more myself."

Still, he can now still back and take a little credit. “It’s unacceptable from her side to do some things on the court what she was doing before. Right now, it looks like she’s stopped doing that.” he said. “She was top 50, 60, 40, 30 – jumping all around. Right now, she’s basically cracking Top 10.”

He smiled. “So it was pretty good advice, I guess.”

Sep 8th, 2006, 01:22 AM
Aw that's a really nice article. It always seems like Marat and Dinara are pretty close, despite not getting to spend much time together.

Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:38 PM
Safina finding stamina to take her all way

THREE months ago, Russian Dinara Safina was wondering when she would be able to again bring her power to bear on women's tennis.
Safina, the world No. 11, yesterday convinced herself she has regained the stamina to withstand an Australian summer with the best of them and also hold her young Russian compatriots at bay at the Gold Coast this week.
Safina, 20, did not play the last three weeks of last season because she was diagnosed with fatigue syndrome, which she hopes she has learnt to control.
She will today play Russian Maria Kirilenko, a 19-year-old ranked No. 30 in the world, after a nerve-settling 6-3 6-2 first round win against countrywoman Elena Likhovtseva in the Australian Women's Hardcourt championships.
"It's going to be a really tough one against Maria, but I am really happy to be back on court," said Safina, the fifth-ranked of the 12 Russian women in the top 50.
"In October, I couldn't play for three minutes without stopping. All I could do was stand in one place and still I was getting tired, but I'm told I can take care of this problem if I stay focused on it."
It has aided Safina and other European players that the Gold Coast weather has been mild, but she said she was ready to have her regained strength tested by sterner conditions this month.
"It will be hot not only for me, but for everyone. I have to accept it's hot and drink a lot and take care of myself," Safina said.

Jan 3rd, 2007, 08:30 PM
True grit as Safina wins tough battle
Dominic Burke

She's still on the road to recovery but Dinara Safina has sounded a clear warning her fighting abilities are nearing their peak.

The Russian baseliner last night won through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Women's Hardcourts at Royal Pines with a hard-fought victory over compatriot Maria Kirilenko.

Safina's gutsy win confirmed the world No.11 remained on track in her bid to re-assert herself as a world force following a frustrating end to 2006, in which she was struck down by a fatigue-related illness.

The former Royal Pines semi-finalist said on Tuesday how happy she was just to be back on court and there was an obvious delight at the way in which she powered to victory last night.

"It was a really tough one," said Safina of her 6-2, 7-5 win.

"She played really well -- I had to come back. I really had to fight hard today."

Indeed there was plenty in last night's match to put Safina in high spirits.

Her serve looked in good shape, her booming forehand found its share of winners and her double-backhand was more than efficient. But it was her ability to summon her fighting powers that proved the difference, with Safina bouncing back from an early break in the second set to overhaul Kirilenko.

While she strolled through the first set with seeming ease, the second was a different encounter.

Whereas in the first set Safina won nearly every baseline battle, it was Kirilenko who came out on top for many of the similar stoushes early in the second.

The 19-year-old glamour girl, ranked No.30 in the world, matched Safina's power game and, after breaking her opponent's second service game, managed to jump to a handy 4-2 lead.

Safina wasted three golden opportunities to break back and level the scores.

However, Safina rallied and hit back on her own serve to stay in the set and then, when provided with another opportunity to break Kirilenko's serve, made no mistake.

Having fought back to level the scores at 4-4, Safina slowly edged ahead 6-5 as the next three games stayed on serve.

As the intensity of the match continued to rise, there was a sense that the next slip-up could prove crucial.

It proved that way for Kirilenko, who found herself on the back foot with a double-fault on the first point of what turned out to be the final game.

A moment of brilliance then saw Safina earn two match points with her classy double-backhanded lob easily evading the on-rushing Kirilenko.

Kirilenko managed to save the first match point but Safina wasn't to be denied.

After the pair were locked in a lengthy -- and blistering -- cross-court battle, Safina opted to change her cue and ripped a winner down the line to clinch the match.

Jan 6th, 2007, 06:56 AM
Safina beats Hingis in thriller
January 06, 2006 | Gold Coast

Big-hitting Russian Dinara Safina outlasted world No.7 Martina Hingis to win a thrilling final at the Australian Women's Hardcourts Championships on the Gold Coast today.

The 20-year-old Safina triumphed 6-3 3-6 7-5 in two hours, 10 minutes in a high-quality decider between the top seeds at Royal Pines Resort.

It was a tremendous effort from Safina considering the world No.10 had played a gruelling semi-final against Israeli teenager Shahar Peer before backing up in the doubles last night.

In stark contrast, five-time grand slam champion Hingis had spent just three hours, 27 minutes on court this week compared to Safina's six hours, 41 minutes heading into today's decider.

It's the first time Safina has defeated Hingis in three attempts, including a final in Rome in May last year.

"Everyone's going to have to watch her because she's going to be even better than her brother (former men's world No.1 Marat Safin)," Hingis declared at the post-match presentation.

Safina, sidelined towards the tailend of last season with medical fatigue syndrome, won the opening set 6-3 but the 26-year-old Hingis claimed the second set by the same scoreline to set up an exciting finish.

The Russian led 4-2 in the third set but again allowed Hingis back into the match in the battle between the 2006 Gold Coast semi-finalists.

Safina eventually edged ahead 6-5 and Hingis crumbled on serve in the next game as her opponent took out the championship with a forehand winner.

"I hope it's not our last final... and good luck in the Australian Open," she said to Hingis before holding the trophy aloft.

Safina and her Slovenian playing partner Katarina Srebotnik will contest the doubles final against unseeded pair Iveta Benesova and Galina Voskoboeva in the next match on centre court.

Jan 6th, 2007, 06:56 AM
Safina halts Hingis to lift Gold Coast crown
January 06, 2006 | Gold Coast

Dinara Safina proved she could keep a lid on her emotions when it mattered by beating Martina Hingis 6-3 3-6 7-5 in the final of the Australian women's hardcourt championships on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

The Russian second seed secured her fifth WTA singles title with a crunching forehand winner, leaving Hingis frustrated in her build-up to the Australian Open which begins on Jan. 15.

Punching the air in delight, Safina ran to the stands to exchange high-fives with her coach and a broke into a big smile as she read a message that had come through on her mobile.

"I'm sorry Martina, I had to take revenge for Rome," Safina said courtside, referring to her defeat by Hingis in the 2006 Rome final.

Like her big brother and former world number one Marat Safin, the 20-year-old Safina is prone to losing her way thanks to her volatile temper.

But having clawed her way to the title showdown after coming back from the brink of defeat during a three-hour marathon in the semis, Safina made sure she would not let her fragile temperament get in the way of victory.

Instead, she left Hingis to have the angry outburst. The frustrated Swiss had only herself to blame as she let Safina off the hook time and again with her inability to convert the majority of the break-point opportunities she earned.

"I'd like to congratulate Dinara, what a week (you've had)," Hingis told the crowd.
"Today she was just too good and everyone should watch her because she's gonna be maybe even better than her brother."

Returning to the scene of her comeback a year ago after a 36-month exile from the sport, Hingis appeared to be going through the motions as she surrendered the first set to a player she had beaten in both previous meetings.

But after letting off steam in the sixth game of the second set, the world number seven seemed to have overcome her demons when she conjured a magical lob to break Safina for a 5-3 lead in the second set.

Despite levelling the match after 74 minutes, the respite did not last for Hingis and she swiftly fell 3-1 behind in the third set.

A break in the seventh game once again put Hingis back on serve but Safina was in no mood to be generous and broke the Swiss to love to wrap up the contest.

"Coming here I couldn't even imagine that I could win it, I had a pretty tough draw," she said. "I'm really happy with the way I played the whole tournament.

"Today when I was warming up I was pretty nervous inside. But I could handle my nerves and put them into the game."

Jan 8th, 2007, 12:30 PM
DINARA Safina's coach Glenn Schaap said her punishing schedule proved an unlikely ally on Saturday when the Russian won her first WTA Tour title in 20 months.
Safina spent 2hr 15min on court in her singles semi-final of the Australian Hardcourt championship on Friday night. She defeated Israeli Shahar Peer 4-6 7-6 (6-1) 6-1.
She then had a doubles semi-final while her opponent in Saturday's final, Martina Hingis, had her semi curtailed after 34 minutes when opponent Tathiana Garbin retired.
The 20-year-old second seed outlasted top seed Hingis 3-6 6-3 7-5 in the final at Royal Pines and followed up by snaring the doubles crown with Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik.
"Dinara did her normal treatment after the two matches (on Friday night)," said Schaap, a Dutchman who is guiding Marat Safin's younger sister for a second season.
"The doubles (semi-final) was good for her to release herself physically and in terms of tension for the singles final. I was surprised how good she was when she had her warm-up. She's very young and learns from those matches. The potential is high, but it depends on how much we can get out of her."
Safina's fifth title will put her back in the world's top 10 today, displacing Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova.
Hingis paid credit to Safina's toughness in saving two break points with well-placed serves at 5-5 in the third set, just before the Swiss star's serve deserted her on the last two points of the final.
Hingis said Safina might turn out to be a better player than Marat, a dual grand slam winner, because she has "more will and desire".
"She's slowly arriving and on the right path. She manages her emotions better now," Hingis said.
The Swiss, who plays Auckland winner Jelena Jankovic in what will be a tough first-round match at the Sydney International today, stopped short of saying Safina was as hard a hitter as her compatriot Maria Sharapova.
"Sharapova hits the ball very hard and Justine Henin-Hardenne does too and she adds some spin to it," Hingis said.
Schaap said it was possible that Safina, once regarded as suspect under pressure, could win a grand slam title this year after posting stunning three-set wins in the past 12 months against Sharapova, Hingis and rising star Peer.
"We are all like the weather. Every day is a different day," Schaap said.
"We work all the time to improve her and get things set so she understands what she needs to do. But Dinara is not Marat. Marat has had all his successes and is a lot older than she is."

Foot's Fingers
Jan 18th, 2007, 08:53 AM
Dinara turning the tables
by Luke Buttigieg
Thursday, 18 January, 2007

A couple of years ago, Marat Safin didn't show too much brotherly love when asked about his sister Dinara Safina's Melbourne Park exit, stating that it was time his then 18-year-old sibling grew up.

Speaking after Dinara had squandered a one-set lead against Amelie Mauresmo in very warm conditions at Australian Open 2005, Marat didn't stop there, adding that he wouldn't be providing her with any more advice because she didn't listen anyway.

Stung by her brother's harsh words, just over a week before he went on to claim his second career Grand Slam title when he ended local Lleyton Hewitt's Australian Open dream, Dinara has come off career-best seasons in the past couple of years.

Ranked just inside the world's top 50 when she made her departure back then, Dinara has since climbed to No.20 at the end of 2005 and to No.11 when 2006 came to a close, before her fifth title on the Gold Coast lifted her a spot higher to No.10.

While Dinara has been improving her game over the past couple of years, Marat has endured a loss of form and then serious knee problems that saw his ranking head just as quickly in the opposite direction.

He may have started to turn things around again in the second half of last year, lifting his ranking back to No.26, but their respective rankings positions mean Dinara is seeded at No.9 for the year's first Grand Slam and Marat at No.26.

Six years younger than Marat, who also won the 2000 US Open when he thrashed one of the sport's greats, Pete Sampras, in the final, Dinara says she has not rubbed it in because he remains her hero.

"We have a really good relationship and I know that whenever I need any help he's always there with me," she said. "He is still for me the best and for me he's a hero."

Asked during a guest stint on AO Radio on Day Three following her first-round, 7-6(5) 6-1 win over fellow Russian Ekaterina Bychkova, Dinara dismissed friendly suggestions she should now give him advice when his 2005 comments were raised.

"No he's too good for my advice. He thought that I was not listening but that was not true," she said of the comments. "After that interview that he gave, the year when he won the Australian Open, my rank went high so probably he was right."

Having started her 2007 season on the best possible note when she downed former world No.1 Martina Hingis in the final on the Gold Coast, Dinara wasn't aware that Hingis later said she could win a Grand Slam this year and will one day be a better player than Marat.

"It's tough when someone was already No.1 and has two Grand Slams so it's tough to be better than him. I'll try to at least come closer to him. I didn't know that. I will try to do my best," she said of the high rating from Hingis.

One of the taller and more powerful girls on the circuit at 182cm (just under six foot), Dinara was forced out of a few events late last year by medical fatigue syndrome, which she says leaves 'you with no power inside'.

Attributing the condition to simply playing too much last year, having had a busy schedule of singles and doubles when she now believes her body wasn't ready for it, Dinara won't play as many tournaments in 2007 as a result.

But asked what she expects to do both at Australian Open 2007 and for the rest of the season, Dinara said she is a little too much like Marat when it comes to knowing what the future holds.

"I'm a little bit unpredictable, sometimes I don't even know what to expect from myself," Dinara said. "I know that I can play really good and sometimes - well now it's not so often - but know I can go a little bit down and I still need to work on this to be a little bit more consistent."

Based in Monte Carlo like her brother, who she spends as much time as possible with when they are at the same event, Dinara would love to play mixed doubles with him at a Grand Slam but knows that it is unlikely because he has to play best-of-five-set singles matches.

Asked about his sister's improvement in the two years since he made those scathing comments, soon after his second five-setter in as many rounds on Day Three when he beat Israeli Dudi Sela, Marat had much more positive things to say.

"She won the tournament the first week of the year, she beat Hingis," Marat said. "I saw that match, and I think she's doing pretty well with her coach. She improved a lot. She's top ten, and I'm pretty sure she's fit and she's ready to win, and I think she can go far."

But having said in 2006 she has decided to focus on herself rather than be caught up in comparisons with Marat - saying 'I am what I am, I am Dinara' - it would be pleasing the 20-year-old that her big brother now regards her as more of an equal than an annoying little sister.

Foot's Fingers
Feb 7th, 2007, 07:00 AM
Relive the chat session with Dinara SafinaHere are the highlights of the chat session with Dinara Safina, seeded number 7 in the Open Gaz de France.

Against which French player did you enjoy playing the most?
None in particular, I don’t care…

Hello Dinara. Are you thinking about one day perhaps playing a mixed doubles in the Grand Slam with your brother
Marat (in my opinion you two would form a brilliant pair that could achieve wonders!). Thanks for your answer and good luck for the tournament.
I would love to play mixed doubles with him, but I already compete in the women’s Grand Slam simple and doubles events, so adding a third one would be too much.

What is your goal for this tournament that you already won in 2005?
If I play my best tennis, anything can happen. If I remain focused, match after match, I can go right to the end.

What memories do you keep from your victory in 2005?
If I come back very year, it’s only because I have great memories! What I like the best here is the public. I don’t really know why but I always get the impression that
the crowd is behind me.

Who is you best friend on the circuit? And your best friend on the ATP circuit –apart from your brother?
On the women’s circuit, I get along really well with my doubles partner, Katarina Srebotnik. I am also quite close to Elena Vesnina. On the men’s circuit, apart from my brother, it’s hard to say. I know a lot of people, almost everyone in fact, but I don’t have any specific relationship with the

Which tournament would you like to win if you could chose?
A Grand Slam of course!!! Any of the Grand Slam tournaments really.

What player, apart from your brother, do you admire the most?
Among the men, nobody except my brother. He was already at top level when I started to play at a decent level so I didn’t really have the choice! As for the women, when I was younger, I only liked the world number 1s. As soon as someone else took the spot, I changed idols. (laughs)

Are you afraid to loose you spot in Fed Cup since Sharapova said she was ready to play?
I don’t really care. But I am very disappointed with what’s happening with the Russian Fed Cup team…

Technically, what stoke was the hardest for you to master or the one you would like to improve?
Without any doubt, coming up to the net. It’s something I still have a hard time to do naturally. I have to work to make my runs more efficient.

What are your musical tastes?
Just before a match, I like listening to music with a lot of rhythm. Otherwise I also like Russian music in general.

When you are in Paris, do you have time to visit the city and if so, what are your favourite places?
I’ve come here dozens of times yet I feel I haven’t really visited anything except for the Louvre. I am quite lazy, usually I only get out of my hotel room to play or train. It’s everywhere the same.

Apart from tennis, what are your favourite pastimes?
I like staying home, quietly, relaxing and spending time with friends. It’s nice not to have to take the plane or play a tournament…

You speak Russian and English. Do you speak any other languages or would you like to learn another one?
I also speak Spanish. I live in Monaco and I’d like to seize the opportunity to improve my French but it’s very hard, I sometimes have the impression that my brain is simply not built for this language! (laughs)