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  Topic Review (Newest First)
Sep 11th, 2015 02:51 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Catching up with former world No. 1 Dinara Safina

By Andrew Eichenholz
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Dinara Safina has had her fair share of memories at the US Open. In one way or another, it became home to the Russian, who spent 26 weeks at No. 1 in the world, made the semifinals at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2008 and was the top seed the next year. Tennis would retire Safina's career, as nagging back problems that plagued her for yearsforced her to last play in Flushing in 2010 before she officially announced that she would never play professional tennis again in 2014.

The injuries would not keep the Russian away from the game, though. Five years since her last visit, Safina is back in Flushing. The three-time Slam finalist is mentoring four Russian juniors competing here at the Open.

“I started in the summer,” said Safina, who is helping out with the Russian Tennis Federation. “I spoke with our president of the federation. I said I would like to help the juniors and to work with them and that’s what I started.”

Early on a Monday morning, when Safina may have been first leaving her hotel five years ago to head to practice, the Russian was prancing behind the baseline on Court 11. The only crowd in the vicinity was standing across the way watching Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin and New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh helping out at a youth clinic.

“They told me if I would like to come to the US Open just to see more of the juniors to see what I think, so I said why not,” said Safina about the federation reaching out to her. “So, I’m here watching the juniors and our future stars.”

One of those future stars, 16-year-old Anna Blinkova, the world No. 3 junior, is one of the students who are reaping the benefits of Safina’s help. Getting to work with a 12-time WTA titlist is not something she has taken lightly.

“Of course it is a great support for me and I appreciate it very much,” said Blinkova. “Just from a person who helps me to win, who wants me to win sincerely and all the things she tells me. It makes me feel very confident in myself. It makes me feel like there is a person who can always help me to do my job well.”

To Safina, her love for the game is still there. Anything she can do to stay around it and positively impact the sport, the Russian will do it. She officially retired last year after playing her final match in 2011, but it was not that she chose to retire. Tennis retired Safina with back issues that plagued her throughout her career.

“I guess it’s a part of it that I miss the game and second, it’s something that I used to do the whole life and I know the best,” said Safina. “If I can share my experience to help the juniors to get better and you know to reach their goals and dreams, why not?”

While she may be best known for how she struck the ball, that is who Safina is at her roots.

“I think that’s my character,” said the 29-year-old. “I just like to help people.”

Former rivals are glad to see that Safina is back around the sport. Former world No. 1 singles player and current No. 1 doubles seed at the US Open, Martina Hingis, faced off against Safina in a couple of finals nearly a decade ago.

"It's nice to see her back at a big event like here," said Hingis. "It's nice to see her finding her way back in the tennis circuit."

For Safina, of all the big events, one city has always stood out: New York, where she even lived for three months since her retirement.

“I’ve been in New York many times since I retired,” said Safina “I’m in love with this city and my dream is one day to move to New York to live.”

Besides the city itself, the former star loved the atmosphere at the year’s final Grand Slam.

“I think it’s tough to say one thing. The most, I guess it’s the crowd,” said Safina about what her favorite thing at the Open is. “I think it’s the best crowd ever. Like in Arthur Ashe Stadium, night sessions, when it’s fully crowded, just the best atmosphere ever.”

Although her playing career is over, Safina is not quite done with the sport, nor will she be, even after the curtains close on the 2015 tournament and her work with the Russian juniors.

“Well definitely it’s going to be something, it’s going to be close to tennis, whether it’s coaching either being an advisor or whatever, it’s going to be close to tennis,” said Safina. “I don’t know what’s going to be after, but I’m going to be involved in tennis."

Tennis may have taken Safina's career away, but she is still giving right back to it.
May 13th, 2014 08:13 PM
bruce goose
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Am gonna say just a little bit and then unsuscribe from the thread because it's still a little sad to think about how much more Dinara could've done

Am still proud to have been Dinarik's fan, as she was so genuine with her friendly personality...unlike so many of the fake "Girl Smileys" of the WTA who act charmingly with the camera on and are shallow putas in their real lives. The only big dishonest thing that Dinara did was not being true to herSELF about the psychological breakdowns she sometimes had at crucial moments. Even with those, she still probably would've broken through and gotten at least that token Slam crown one day. What's most frustrating is that Dinara self-destructed by exacerbating an injury that might have healed sufficiently had she gotten the require rest and rehab instead of forcing herself to play through it. We can only guess that insecurity over the "unworthy #1" accusation is what pushed her to play injured when she shouldn't have.

Most would say that Marat was born with lots more natural tennis talent, so maybe that makes it even more remarkable that Dinarik got to the brink of reaching legend status with an RG title before her body broke down. It's never easy being in the shadow of an icon, but she did well to establish her OWN name and not live off her brother's. I can only hope that Dinarik finds deep fulfillment in her tennis non-playing days...whether it be as a coach, fan or whatever else that's good in life
May 2nd, 2014 02:14 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Dinara to officially announce her retirement at Madrid trophy ceremony.
Oct 15th, 2013 03:07 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Big feels indeed
Oct 11th, 2013 01:05 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Officially retired in 2014. Expected but same feels.
Oct 5th, 2013 03:32 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

It is encouraging to hear she still wants to make it back on tour.
Aug 20th, 2013 01:04 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

A great read. I am glad there is still Media interest in her. She deserves it. There have only been 21 number One players on the WTA tour and she held the ranking for the 12th longest amount of time.
Jul 12th, 2013 12:30 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Originally Posted by osseous View Post
Thank you so much for this.
My pleasure I am glad to see she hasn't 100% given up on Tennis, she is focusing on her studies which is great. Where there is life there is hope
Jul 11th, 2013 11:33 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Thank you so much for this.
Jul 10th, 2013 06:21 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Full Article:

The Lonely Fight of Dinara Safina

All but forgotten in the celebration of this year's French Open winners, 2008-09 finalist and former world No.1 Dinara Safina faces a long-odds battle to overcome the back injury that has halted her career - perhaps for good - at age 25. By Barry Wood.

Dinara Safina is still hopeful of combating the crippling back injury that forced her off the tour in 2011 and haunts her whenever she steps back onto a tennis court.
The struggle to overcome her injury is just the latest battle in the life of the 27-year-old Russian. First came the fight to emerge from the giant shadow of her brother Marat Safin, who rose to No.1 when Dinara was a 14-year-old junior. When Safina achieved the No.1 ranking herself, she had to deal with the scorn of the media, who banded her undeserving of the top spot. Finally, even as No.1, Safina was ignored by the money men who considered her achievements unworthy of commercial reward.

Dinara has always shown a refreshing honesty and openness, so it is hugely disappointing that she has not received greater recognition of the talent and dedication that made her the best woman player on the planet in 2009. She reigned as the world No.1 for 26 weeks and reached three Grand Slam finals (the French Open in 2008-09, and Australian Open 2009). She won silver at the Beijing Olympics and claimed 12 singles titles. She has also been a semi-finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

Yet life has always been an uphill battle, right from the time she took up the game inspired by her tennis coach mother, Raouza Islanova.

"I was always in the shadow of my brother," Safina reveals. "No matter what I was doing they were always comparing me and this puts lots of weight on the shoulders. We are the only brother and sister who became No.1 in the history of tennis! How many sisters of brother gave up because they couldn't hold the pressure? This they forget, that I was always compared, but i did it and became No.1.

"When i started to play as a pro I had {a} lot of pressure because I never wanted [to] be only sister of Marat. I wanted to be also myself. At the beginning everything was great. My first year on the tour (2002) I captured a title in Sopot as one of the youngest players on tour. Everything looked nice and easy, but it was not. My brother was doing great and that was utting more pressure on me.

"The people from the press never liked me. I don't know why. They were always smiling to me and behind the back were sticking [in] the knife. I never had a full (press) box in my matches."

When she became No.1, in April 2009, the press said her top spot was not properly earned as she was not a Grand Slam champion. That hurt.

"When I became No.1, every time in the press conference were 100,000 questions about when will I win a Grand Slam, like I didn't want to win! Well, it didn't happen but so what? What, I was not winning the matches? I was not beating the best players? Did someone bring me on a plate the No.1 ranking? I did everything by my hard work!

"Even when I was No.1 people were always so hard on me, giving me sh*@ all the time and I had to deal with it. I never had any people protecting me, not in press, nowhere. I was dealing with everything myself."

While most top players attract lucrative endorsement, Dinara found the cupboard was bare. "I didn't [have] any contracts, not even any promotion as they did with Woz (Caroline Wozniacki), and she has only one (Grand Slam) final! I did 10 times more than she! Well, this is part of marketing, but at that time I wish I [had] more people helping and supporting me."

Life on tour didn't get any easier for the beleaguered Safina. She developed a back injury and as her ranking slipped she found that even the few rewards for her success were withdrawn.

"I guess the worse was when I came to Wimbledon (2010),." she relates. "As you know, if you are a [seeded player] you get a special locker room, but they sent me to the [B] locker room with everyone... and said "Oh, your ranking is 35, you go down.' And i did semis the year before! Well anyway, I pulled out because my back was killing me. It was sad and hard how everyone was turning their back."

Safina felt the first twinges of her back injury during the 2009 French Open, where she was seeded No.1 and finished runner-up for a second year, to Svetlana Kuznetsova. " I started getting the problem first with my left knee. I couldn't push with my left leg as there was a lot of pain," she recalls. "At Wimbledon I started to play on painkillers because it was getting worse and worse and there my back started always to be sore.

"During Cincinnati, every day it was getting worse. Even though I got to the final I was every day with back pain. When I came to Toronto my back was terrible. Every time I had to hit backhand I would see stars. Was really, really bad. I lost first round and flew to New York and couldn't practice and did an MRI.

"It showed that i started to have Spondylosis on my left side, and on the right side I had my stress fracture since 2003 Wimbledon. It was not hurting me but that's why I had a lot of problems [on] my left side, as i was compensating. The doctors told me to take time off but with my team we decided to try to play as I was (seeded) No.1 (at 2009 US Open) and was trying to end up No.1 (for the year).

I started to use the strongest painkillers, But it was going worse and worse.I couldn't compete in the (year end) WTA Championships and in Australia 2010 I completely destroyed my back."

Safina retired in the fourth round at Melbourne Park against Maria Kirilenko and sensed much of the damage was done. "I realized that I had to take a break earlier but I was always hoping that it's gonna get better. But in 2011 one morning after [the] Madrid tournament I woke up with a lot of pain, couldn't bend, turn or do anthing and just called my family and said I'm coming home. It was the toughest thing. I have never cried and been more sad that that period of time.

" I haven't officially retired. I play once every two months, but I'm so afraid. I have hat pain so deep in my mind and I guess because still I feel it, I don't play. My legs get numb very often if I sit, also my fingers on [one] hand because of my back problem. I am still trying to be active, trying to keep in shape, but when you have these problems you think 10 times before stepping onto the court."

In her forced exile from the tour, Safina returned to Russia and university. She's a third-year a student. "And I have other things going on. I'm ambassador for the winter 2019 Universiada in Krasnoyarsk bid. My life is quite busy and interesting. There are many possibilities in life."

Whether A return to professional tennis is in the cards remains impossible for her to say. " How long it's gonna be [out of tennis] I don't know. Right now I don't want to think about it. I'm just happy living life, studying and enjoying."
Jul 10th, 2013 01:12 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

I read this too, it's sad. She mentions how she could never seem to get any sponsorship and how the press seemed to dislike her for no reason. She plays one every couple of months, but there is still a little bit of pain, and i think some of it is mental, she's waiting for the horrible pain to return. Hasn't given up yet, so i suppose where there is life there is hope
Jul 2nd, 2013 07:48 AM
Invisible Fan
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Hello Dinara fans

This month's Australian Tennis Magazine has an article on Dinara.
Feb 9th, 2013 12:26 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Someone asked her is she going to be back on Tour and her answer is ,,hahahaha no!!!!!!"
Too bad, I was kinda hoping she is thinking about coming back, but after I saw this photo, everything is clear
Dec 18th, 2012 04:48 PM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

Dec 16th, 2012 11:02 AM
Re: News, Articles, Interviews - Anything Dinara

We're officially reitred now?
This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

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