Dinara Safina really has been the player in form in recent weeks storming to the top of the world rankings as well as having a good run during the clay season winning in Rome and Madrid.
Since her appearance in the French Open final the twenty three year old has been preparing for Wimbledon, which begins today, as she attempts to get beyond the third round for the very first time.
“I played a few good matches in Holland, it was just what I need to get use to the grass and now I’m here in London ready for Wimbledon where I have tow days off to get in the best shape as I can, said Safina.
And all eyes really are on the Russian who is still to claim her first Grand Slam after getting desperately close in the French Open only a few weeks ago.
“Of course it was a disappointing loss but I have taken the positives out of it it was a very good tournament for me and I played some good matches, it’s just a pity that I lost in the final.
“I know what was wrong and what was right and next time I will try and not make these mistakes and I’m looking to move forward and break through one day,” Safina said.
And this time of year really is the most congested part of the season with two Grand Slams, in the form of the French and Wimbledon, coming in quick succession leaving the players little time to adapt to the grass after playing on the clay.
“For the French we have a big break so we have much more time to get used to the clay, here it’s a little bit closer so we don’t have as much time to use to the surface.
“Starting from today I will try and get the best out of it and with each match hopefully I will feel better and better, but physically I’m fine.”
Tennis was in the blood of the Russian number one with her mother Rauza Islanova, a high profile coach back in Russia, and Safina’s coach in the early stages of her development.
“My mother is a coach so I had no other choice so she brought me to the tennis court, I didn’t get to choose much.” (laughs)
But it seemed that her mother saw in both her children a real talent for the sport as Dinara and her older brother Marat Safin have become the first brother-sister team that both reached world number 1 positions.
And Dinara revealed that ascending to the top of the rankings is something that she has been striving to achieve all of her career: “Well it was my dream to get there so it has taken the pressure off me because I always wanted to reach there and when you do it’s like one of my goals has been reached and that pressure is gone now.
“I wouldn’t say that I put too much pressure on myself I just like to get the best of me, some people do see at me putting pressure on myself but I want to get the best out of everything, I’m very professional.”
The early part of the year saw the number one spot change hands several times but since Dinara achieved her dream of reaching the top of the rankings on April 27th she has dominated the women’s games in what has so far been a great year for the Russian player.
She build on her French Open final and silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 by reaching her second Grand Slam final at the beginning of the year down in Australia.
And after a good string of matches on the clay, which included that French Open final, she is the top seed at Wimbledon and one of the favourites to scoop the title.
While she has been plying very well her speed across the court has been the one area of her game that Dinara really has improved over the last twelve months: “Conditioning for me was always important and I need to be as quick as I can. I work out a lot and I run a lot as well as going to the gym, so it’s a mix of everything, and I also try to d a lot on the tennis court.
And despite the busy schedule Dinara loves her time on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour: “I enjoy it you know I’m having a good time. I have no problems travelling the whole year and being away from home, I’m really enjoying being away from home.”
And other players on the tour have juggled their playing commitments with projects away from the court Safina has stayed focused on her game with little time for much else.
“I don’t have much time out of tennis so I meet with my friends when I have to chance and we go out to dinner. I also spend time with my family because I don’t see them much so that’s the first thing that I do when I get home.”
For anyone who has even had just one eye on the women’s game in recent years will have noticed the dominance of the Russian players over the rankings, four other Russian women join Dinara in the top ten.
“It’s because we have a competition between each other when someone passes someone else we train to then pass them so in a good way it’s competition. We force each other to play better and fight more to move on.”
But on the agenda for Safina at this very moment is of course Wimbledon as she attempts to navigate her way through the rounds and claim her for Grand Slam title.
And despite being in good shape and the top seed she was playing down her chances: “Well I just want to take Wimbledon one match at a time and see how far I can get this time.
“For the rest of the season I just want to be healthy, that’s the most important thing, and to continue working hard and playing my best.”
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw