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Grand Slam failure weighs on Safina

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 13:00

The 23-year-old Russian has reached the final of three grand slams in the past 18 months, only to lose on each occasion. One of those final defeats was at Melbourne Park last year when Safina was well below her best as she was brushed aside 6-0 6-3 by Serena Williams.

The Russian admitted the mental scars of those defeats will only be healed by claiming a breakthrough grand slam success, and said: “First of all, (I have) to have another chance to get there. Those three mistakes that I made in all the previous finals, I just have to put everything together and not make them, first of all.”

She added: “Just be yourself and play my game, I think this is the most important.

“Not thinking that this is the final and wining, losing – just this is another match.”

Safina’s preparation for the Australian Open, which begins on January 18, has been frustrated by a back injury that surfaced during the end-of-season tournament in Doha.

She was subsequently diagnosed with swelling on her spine and was only able to begin full practice again in mid-December.

Before then Safina was restricted to playing forehands only, and pulled out of last week’s lead-up event in Brisbane to ensure she was in peak condition for the Australian Open.

“I started in just the middle of December to hit backhand, so I still needed one more week that I could play full and run on the court, because I could not run on the court for a long time,” she said.

“Before then I was only able to play forehands. This was because this was the shot that didn’t cause me any pain. Because, on the rotation on the backhand in Doha every time I would have to turn I would see stars.”

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