[The Brazil Times nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 84°F  
High: 84°F ~ Low: 65°F
Friday, July 29, 2016

Safina, Serena Williams in Australian Open final

Thursday, January 29, 2009

By DENNIS PASSA

AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams has been there before -- three times in fact. The closest Dinara Safina has been was watching her brother celebrate his title.

On the line Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena will be the Australian Open championship -- potentially Williams' fourth here and 10th Grand Slam title. It would be the first for the 22-year-Safina after she lost the French Open final last year to Ana Ivanovic.

The No. 1 ranking will also be decided -- the winner takes it along with the title.

While Williams has memories of hoisting the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup three times, Safina can only recall seeing her brother, Marat Safin, win the men's title here in 2005.

"I watched my brother on TV winning this tournament and even if I was to watch it now I would have tears in my eyes," said Safina, who beat fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6 (4) Thursday. "It is great that I can follow in his footsteps because he was my idol, and he is still my idol. That I'm doing as well as him is just amazing."

Williams, for her part, has never been satisfied with her sterling resume.

"Obviously, I want to win," she said after beating Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4. "I'm excited that I'm playing really consistent."

By advancing to the singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open, Williams broke the record for career prize money won by a female athlete. Her total of about $22.7 million surpasses golf great Annika Sorenstam by more than $150,000.

"I remember earning my first check of $240 at Quebec City in 1995, and while I knew I could have a great career in tennis, I could not have imagined or dreamed of all of this," Williams said. "I'm very proud to have reached this milestone."

Williams would seem to have an advantage over Safina in the Australian Open finals. She's gotten the upper hand five of the six times they've met, including in the semifinals of last year's U.S. Open in relatively easy fashion.

Safina's only victory over Williams came last year on clay at Berlin, where the Russian needed a third-set tiebreaker to win. The last time they met, at the WTA Tour Championships in November, Williams won 6-4, 6-1.

Safina said she was "dead" at the tour championships -- "not ready to play at all."

"Also, at the U.S. Open, it came after winning two tournaments in a row, playing the final at Beijing," said Safina, who lost the Olympic gold medal final to Dementieva.

"That took so much energy out of me. When I got there, I was just not ready to play. Now it's different, the beginning of the season, another tournament."

Safina has lost 15 pounds in the past seven months and her fitness has improved along with her ranking -- from No. 15 at the end of 2007 to No. 3 at the end of last year.

Now she could get to No. 1, and Williams is wary.

"Safina's playing well," Williams said. "She seems to never die. She's going to be a tough opponent. She's playing amazing, and she wants to win a Grand Slam and go for the glory."

Safina agreed on the glory part.

"It would be amazing to have the same trophy as my brother," Safina said. "It'll be a dream come true."



Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: