Slam-less Safina to Take No. 1 from Serena — Warranted?
WTA Release – When the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday, April 20, 2009, Dinara Safina will emerge as the new World No. 1, replacing American Serena Williams who will have held the title for 11 consecutive weeks (72 total). It will mark the first time in Safina’s career that she will hold the World No. 1 ranking.
She is only the second Russian woman, along with Maria Sharapova, to hold the World No. 1 title. Safina’s brother Marat Safin reached the ATP World Tour No. 1 ranking on November 20, 2000. Dinara and Marat Safin are the first brother-sister duo in tennis history to reach the World No.1 ranking.
The Russian sensation from Moscow will become the 19th top-ranked player in women’s tennis history, joining a distinguished list that includes Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Amelie Mauresmo, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
“It’s a great honor to reach the No. 1 ranking and it is a dream that every girl who has ever wanted to play professional tennis shares. It is even extra special for me since my brother Marat was able to reach the No. 1 ranking and I am happy to share this achievement with him,” said Dinara Safina. “There’s no question that while I am very proud of my results over the past year, I would have liked to reach this achievement in a different manner. I hope to prove to everyone over the coming months that I merit the honor of being World No. 1.”
Over the past 52 weeks (as of April 20), Safina has won four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles — Rogers Cup (Montreal), East West Bank Classic (Los Angeles), Qatar Telecom German Open (Berlin), and Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo); and has been a runner-up five times, including the 2009 Australian Open (lost to Serena Williams) and 2008 Roland Garros (lost to Ana Ivanovic).
In addition to winning the coveted US Open Series and a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, Safina became the first player in Tour history to defeat three reigning No.1 ranked players in the same season (Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic). Safina won 44 of 54 matches to end the season and qualified for the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar. Safina’s ranking in 2008 vaulted from No.17 to No.2, which resulted in her winning the Tour’s Most Improved Player of the Year award.
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