Safina revels in court time on tour return


Originally published on: 30/04/10 11:43

After three months on the sidelines, Dinara Safina’s first match back on the WTA Tour ended happily for the former world No.1 after she clinched a 7-6(5) 3-6 6-0 victory over Agnes Szavay in Stuttgart.

The Russian, who has slipped to No.3 in the world after ongoing problems with her back, conceded the second set to the spirited Hungarian at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, but shot back with glimpses of her former self with a crushing final set bagel.

“It’s nice to win easily but it’s also good to have a tough match,” she said somewhat contradictorily after recording her first win since bypassing Elena Baltacha in the third round of the Australian Open in January. A conflicting statement it may be, but it is evident that the 23-year-old relished every point of the three set encounter.

Desperate to return to competitive action after suffering a double stress fracture and a ruptured muscle in her back, Safina admitted prior to the Stuggart tournament that a relapse of the injury could bring a premature end to her career.

“Everyone, including my brother Marat (Safin), told me to take my time but it was really difficult because I wanted to come back on court so badly,” said the three-time Grand Slam finalist, who only started hitting balls again on April 3.

“Right now I feel safe and comfortable, but I need to watch closely that it stays that way.”

And with a tough quarter-final test against Shahar Peer – against whom honours are even in their six career meetings – Safina harbors no ambitions to return to the top of the ladder just yet, but simply plans to enjoy her time back out on court.

“My back injury is the worst you can get. With a broken arm or leg, you can rest it, but with your back it is almost impossible. It has made me realise how much I love tennis.

“I just want to get back on court. Regarding things like rankings, titles, defending points – who really cares?”

Elsewhere in Stuttgart, top seed Caroline Wozniacki was less fortunate on her comeback from injury, losing 6-4 6-4 to Lucie Safarova.

The 19-year-old Dane, who retired from the Family Circle Cup in Charleston two weeks ago with an ankle injury, admitted she had not fully recovered from the problem after her exit.

“I didn’t feel like I could move 100% and if you can’t move, you can’t run,” she said.

“She (Safarova) was making me run a bit, but now I just want to get ready for my next tournament (in Madrid).”

In another of the day’s surprises, Victoria Azarenka was bundled out of the tournament by Russian qualifier Anna Lapushchenkova, losing 6-3 6-3.

Fourth seed Jelena Jankovic and Australia’s Samantha Stosur did make it through though, the Serb requiring 82 minutes to beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 6-2, before Stosur recovered from the loss of the first set against Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru to ultimately breeze through 3-6 6-0 6-2.

Hit the link for pics from Thursday’s action in Stuttgart


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.