Serena Williams vs. Dinara Safina in Australian Open Final

Posted on January 31, 2009

Dinara Safina is aiming to become the 37th woman in Open Era tennis history to win a Grand Slam singles title. Since the Open Era of tennis began at the 1968 Roland Garros, there have been 36 different singles champions. The most popular site to win the first Grand Slam title has been the red clay of Roland Garros, Paris where 13 of the 36 Open Era Grand Slam winners have been crowned as first-time Champions, compared to nine (9) at the Australian Open, seven (7) at the US Open and seven (7) at Wimbledon.


Serena Williams advances to her 13th career Grand Slam singles final, equaling her sister Venus's total (13), although Serena's 9-3 record is superior to Venus's 7-6; it is Serena’s fourth Australian Open final (3-0).

Should Williams win the title it will elevate her to the world No.1 ranking for the 62nd week of her career. If Williams takes hold of the No.1 rankings, she is projected to hold the top spot for at least two weeks. It also marks the second straight Grand Slam that Williams will be playing in a final that determines the No.1 ranking (2008 US Open, d. Jankovic).

Williams has won the first set of five of her six matches this week. The only time Williams lost a first set this week was in the quarterfinals (d. Kuznetsova 57 75 61). She is 34-0 at the Australian Open when winning the first set.

Additionally, the last time Williams won the first set of a match at a Grand Slam and did not win the match was at the 2004 US Open quarterfinals (l. to Capriati 26 64 64). Since the 2004 US Open, Williams is 52-9 at Grand Slam events, including a perfect 44-0 record when winning the first set at a Grand Slam.

Serena is 408-0 when winning the final set of the match.

During the Open Era (since 1969), Williams is one of eight players to have won three or more Australian Open singles titles, joining Margaret Smith Court (4), Evonne Goolagong Cawley (4), Steffi Graf (4), Monica Seles (4), Marina Hingis (3) and Martina Navratilova (3). NOTE: Smith Court has won a total of 11 singles titles in Melbourne (seven-straight between 1960-66, pre-Open Era).

Williams is one of just two women in women’s tennis history to save match points on her way to a Grand Slam singles title twice, coming back from the brink of defeat against Kim Clijsters in 2003 Australian Open semifinals and against Maria Sharapova in the 2004 Australian Open semifinals, eventually winning the event both times. (Margaret Osbourne DuPont also achieved the feat, flirting with defeat en route to titles at the 1942 French Open and the 1948 US Open.)

Williams is trying to win back-to-back Slams for the first time since the 2002 US Open and 2003 Australian Open when she completed the “Serena Slam.” The last player to win back-to-back Slams was Justine Henin (2003 US Open and 2004 Australian Open).

By reaching the finals in both singles and doubles, Serena Williams becomes the all-time career prize money leader on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, passing Lindsay Davenport ($22,144,735 in career prize money), and also overtakes the LPGA’s Annika Sorenstam (career earnings of $22,573,192) for the record for career earnings among female professional athletes.


Dinara Safina has advanced to the semifinals or better at three of the last four Grand Slams. The Russian advanced to the finals at 2008 Roland Garros and fell in the semifinals at 2008 Wimbledon.

Dinara is trying to join her brother Marat as the first brother-sister to reach World No.1 ranking.

After finishing the 2008 season with a 44-10 record (since Berlin in May), Safina has continued her stretch of consistent play and improved to 54-11 since May 2008. The 2009 Australian Open is Safina’s eighth finals appearance since May 2008 and during that stretch has posted a 4-4 record.

Safina is aiming to become the 37th woman in Open Era tennis history to win a Grand Slam singles title. Since the Open Era of tennis began at the 1968 Roland Garros, there have been 36 different singles champions at the 163 Grand Slam tournaments held during that time (not including 2009 Australian Open).

Safina is trying to become the second Russian to earn the World No.1 ranking (Maria Sharapova).

Safina is also trying to become the second Russian woman to win her country’s second singles title in Melbourne; to date, six countries have won multiple Australian Open singles titles: United States (13), Australia (10), Czech Republic (5), Germany (4), Switzerland (3) and France (2). (WTA)