Google Down the Line!: PREVIEW: Australian Open Ladies' Final

Friday, January 30, 2009

PREVIEW: Australian Open Ladies' Final

Serena Williams (2) vs. Dinara Safina (3)
ReRe 5, Dinara 1
Last meeting:
WTA Championships (hard), ReRe 6-4, 6-1

We've arrived at the first major final of the season in Oz and it pits one lady baller going for her first Grand Slam title versus another looking to add to her ever-growing major title haul of nine. Oh, and the winner grabs the keys to the WTA Penthouse from current resident Jelena Jankovic.

Serena Williams
will battle Dinara Safina on Saturday night in Melbourne for the Aussie Open ladies' crown. Let's take a look!

How They Got Here: ReRe, who just became the all-time career earnings leader in all of women's sports by reaching the Aussie Open final and winning the doubles crown with sister Venus, began the fortnight showing some rust but rounded into form during the third set of her quarterfinal match against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 27-year old went on to oust the streaking Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals by serving with accuracy and defending relentlessly. It will be ReRe's fourth Aussie Open final and third consecutive Grand Slam final.

Dinara also struggled with her form during the tourney, going the distance in the three of her matches and coming back from 2-5 down and two match points to defeat Frenchie Alize Cornet in the fourth round. Like ReRe, the Russian was able to subdue another streaking lady baller, Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the semifinals to make her first Oz Open final and second career Grand Slam final.

The last time these two ladies met was at the 2008 season-ending WTA Championships in Doha when ReRe, who eventually withdrew from the tourney with injury, dominated an exhausted Dinara 6-4, 6-1 in round robin play.

The 9-time Grand Slammer was asked about battling the Russian and how her game has developed over the years:
Q. How important is the experience factor tomorrow, the fact you've been there so many times before, Dinara has only played in one Grand Slam final?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know if that factors in too much. Once you make it to one Grand Slam final, you pretty much know what to expect. So if she hadn't made it to the final before, then I would say, yeah, I'd be more experienced. Seeing as she's already been there, I think if anything she's going to be way more hungry for it and want it even more. That's going to be definitely going for her.

Q. You were on the tour five years before Dinara came along. Can you tell us how you looked at her when she first came on and how you've seen her develop.

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's developed a lot. She's gotten a lot more confident. When she first came, she was so young and so sweet. I mean, she's still sweet now. You can just see she's more focused now, more intense, and you can just totally see the change.

Q. What about from a game perspective?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, her game has just developed. It's improved leaps and bounds.

Dinara was asked about her lone win over the American and what it will take to beat her:
Q. In [Berlin '08] you also beat Serena Williams. Do you think that will help you going into the final?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, it was a clay court. Now it's completely different. I don't know if we're going to play with the roof open, closed. So let's see what's gonna be on Saturday. So let's see how it's gonna be the conditions. It's different tournament. It's not only that I played her in Berlin, I played two more times against her. I hope I will use ‑‑ the mistakes that I did after, I will not use it next time.

Q. Do you think at the US Open and the Championships when you played her, you just weren't physically or mentally prepared for it?

DINARA SAFINA: Well, those two tournaments it's tough to judge, because playing US Open and Masters, especially Masters, I was just not ready to play at all. I was dead completely. There was nothing inside of me anymore. And also, US Open, coming after winning two tournaments in a row, playing final at Beijing, that took so much energy out of me. When I got there, I was just not ready to play. So now it's different. It's beginning of the season. It's another tournament. Just looking forward for my next challenge.

Q. Serena Williams, is she more intimidating to play against than some of the other girls? Other girls seem to crumble under the pressure of playing her at times.

DINARA SAFINA: I cannot talk about the other players, how they feel when they play against her. I just can talk on my own. You know, we played three times last year. I beat her once. I'm looking forward for this time to play against her.
Outlook: Dinara's game, especially her serve, has deserted her throughout the fortnight but she showcased her mental toughness by gutting out wins with pure desire and belief. That being said, her first serve percentage needs to be high in the final so that she can play first-strike tennis and control the center of the court. If not, she'll be on the defensive immediately in the point and spend the evening on her back foot defending against ReRe's barrage of groundies - a certain recipe for a Dinara disaster.

This match, like most matches involving ReRe, is on her racquet - no question. She possesses endless experience, a more complete game, can play tough-as-nails defense when necessary, and has proven her champion's mettle time and time again in the biggest matches. Plus, her serve is the best in the game when it's clicking - and it has since the Rod Laver retractable roof was closed.

It will take a zoning Dinara to knock a determined ReRe off the path to her 10th career major final - but I don't see that happening.


(images via Getty)


  1. I agree completely with your assessment.


  2. Vamos, Dinara!
    If Serena wins, the wedding's off, Rich. ;)

  3. I promise you guys will laugh watching this link : )

  4. Vamos Rere!Beat the bulky!!I hope Rere's injury free and recovered if tired, and will crush down this lucky passer!

  5. dinara bulky?! LOL! yeah and serena is slim and trim. HA!

  6. Anon 10:50: You're absolutely right.
    Tessa: did Dinara sleep with your boyfriend, insult your mother or kill your puppy? Chill, girl.
    And if we're talking about lucky passers, why do you keep ignoring the fact that Azarenka was one set up against Serena when she retired? Or the fact that Kuzzie choked when she was serving for the match?
    The fact is that they're both in the finals and they both deserve to be there.
    I hope Dinara will win, but I agree with your match prediction, Rich.

  7. uvijek - LMAO!!!

    Anon 1:16 - My thoughts exactly!! Something must have crawled up T's ass and died. What a crab!!

  8. I love Dinara!
    OK, Rere won, as expected.
    Rich is such a great writer.

  9. As i said!LFMAO Suck it!I know lil something about tennis, so despite this site being one way turn Dinara and Rafa fans, it was exactly as I hoped it would be!Dina crashed with a bagel!One word:deserved.
    When your ways to the final are shady, well you get crashed in the finals, so bye bye lucky passer!This one oh you so deserved!

  10. THAT WAS A BLOOD BATH OUCH! I wanted Serena to win but I like Safina too and that was hard to watch.


  11. AGH!! I didn't see the match, slept thru it, and looks like Dinara did too....Damn. Oh well. Congrats to Serena for her 10th Major title, what an incredible accomplishment! Dinara, I'm sure your time will're such a great player and have improved so much. Keep it up!!!

    Tessa: You don't need to keep trying so hard - we all get it, you're full of hate. You don't like Dinara because she's "bulky" and apparently also because she wins matches. But give it a rest. At this point all I read from you is "blah blah blah blah yakety yak yak yak." I have absolutely no respect for you or your taunting, ugly, spiteful comments. Zero respect. So take your "LMFAO suck it" comments elsewhere.

  12. I think Safina has a really great chance to win the French Open. As well as she plays on the hard court she plays much better on clay.


  13. @johanne:I really don't care what you think!I come here cause of great Rich posts, and am loving this site!And you might take a look at your comments too, they boring as hell, with constant Rafa fainting, come up with something new!And yeah, my right is to dislike Dinara, and just back off!This is free place, even no Rafa and Dinara fanatics can visit so you go and make order in your blog!Till then who cares what you think!Go and faint again, and don't forget to write it!

  14. I don't understand half of what you say. Except the blah blah blah blah exclamation point! exclamation point!! exclamation point!!!!!! parts. And even those sound like drivel to me.

  15. So don't read it original fainting honey!And your problem solved.

  16. OMG this match was over really quickly!! I wonder why so many women's finals are so short and so often the guys will be duking it out for so long?? Oh well. I'm looking forward to Fed v Nadal!! Should be a great match!!

    And why all the hate here?? T, nobody likes a bully. Like Anon 1:16 said, chill girl!

  17. Oh I so don't have any need to chill cheering against Dinara.Period.
    Hell, this place only welcomes identical Rafa fainting, against Fed, Dinara praising comments, BORING as hell.
    So chill with disecting comments, read what suits you.Go and recruit some more Dinara prasing people, or leave people to comment as they wish, and chear for who they want to.

  18. My God, that Safina is crap. They were using adjectives to describe the whipping she was taking...horrible, embarrassing,...!
    JJ played Serena better at USO at least making it a match having set points.
    59 minutes today. Huge humiliation. She deserved to lose. Waste of time.


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