Safina produces indoor fireworks
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:38
The 23-year-old Russian lost the first set to former champion Amelie Mauresmo but was 4-1 up in the second when steady rain caused the first hold-up of the tournament.
The landmark decision was taken to close the roof, and after a 45-minute delay Safina prevailed in an absorbing fourth-round match of widely-swinging fortunes, wrapping up a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory after two hours and nine minutes.
Her reward is a quarter-final meeting on Tuesday with Sabine Lisicki, the 19-year-old German who gained a 6-4 6-4 win over world number nine Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark.
Safina made the brighter start and a couple of wayward forehands from the French girl enabled the top seed to break in the second game. Mauresmo drew encouragement from an impressive service game and reeled off five games in a row to lead 5-3 as the Russian lost her accuracy.
Mauresmo maintained the momentum at the start of the second set, breaking her opponent in the first game. The French girl was 40-0 up on her serve in the next game but relaxed her grip and Safina dug even deeper to hold onto her serve in a thrilling third game.
That looked to be a turning point, with the Russian breaking her opponent to love and she was leading 4-1 when the first rain of Wimbledon 2009 forced a hold-up and the covers were brought on in traditional fashion but – when the rain became heavier – the historic decision was made to close the roof.
With most to gain from the interruption, Mauresmo looked energised in the deciding set. Centre Court was by that stage virtually full to capacity and the former champion prevailed in a marathon second game.
Mauresmo quickly consolidated the break but the match took another turn when an animated Safina broke to love and levelled matters at 3-3. The French woman demonstrated a delicate drop shot to edge into a 4-3 lead and Safina was forced to dig deep to save two break points in the next game.
The all-important break came when Mauresmo was broken in the ninth game and Safina served out to clinch a memorable victory.