Serena Williams’ No. 1 ranking is safe, even with the younger Williams sister skipping the top-tier Indian Wells event.
Russian Dinara Safina, who had a chance to take No. 1 for the first time by reaching the Indian Wells final, dropped the ball on Wednesday, squandering a one-set lead in a 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-3 loss to Sharapova-like shrieker Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
“I played pretty good the first set, especially on the tiebreaker,” Safina said. “From the second set, I just gave it all into her hands, so she started to dominate.”
Safina saved a set point in winning the opening set on the tiebreak, but then sat back as Azarenka became the aggressor. Safina was up a break 3-1 in the third before dropping the last five games.
Azarenka said her key to victory was going into Rafa Mode.
“The image I had in my head there was actually [Rafael] Nadal, the way he plays all the time,” Azarenka said. “No matter what, he fights. I think his mentality, for me, it is the best mentality anybody has ever had.”
Azarenka will next face No. 4 seed Vera Zvonareva, the new de facto tournament favorite in the opinion of many, after the Russian who easily beat No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 6-2.
Zvonareva, nicknamed “The Crying Game,” is renowned for her emotional meltdowns on court, but the Russian says emotions are a good thing — if she can keep them under control.
“I think I’m still an emotional player, because I think I like to create on the court,” she said. “I like to play a different game, and I think emotion can help and emotion can harm a little bit. I think with experience, I have learned to let the emotions out when I need it, and to focus on myself when I don’t need them…I don’t really pay attention to what people say.”
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