Not Ready for Prime Time: Safina Gags Aussie Open Final to Serena
by Staff | January 31st, 2009, 8:03 am

Williams Raises 10th Grand Slam Singles Trophy at Aussie Open

Competing in only her second Grand Slam final with the No. 1 ranking on the line was too much for Dinara Safina Saturday at the Australian Open, where the Russian collapsed in a nervous 6-0, 6-3 loss to Serena Williams, who collected her 10th Grand Slam singles title.
The newly-fit, newly determined Safina, sister of combustible ATP player Marat Safin, melted down straight away in game one of the first set, double faulting three times, including break point.

“Well, I would say so,” Safina told reporters when asked if the final was a case of nerves. “It was first time for me to play not only for the Grand Slam, but it’s also for No. 1 spot. And I never been through this situation, and she was already.”

Safina didn’t win a game in the worst Australian Open women’s final in the Open Era until breaking Williams in the opening game of the second set, but Serena strung out the next four games in a row as Safina failed to get her head into the fight.

“I’ve been playing better throughout the weeks,” Serena told reporters regarding her form in Melbourne. “I think doubles was really able to help me out. And also I went out and hit a few balls this morning. I had a really good practice. Watching some of the men’s tennis, they were playing really well. I was really inspired like that. Especially last night’s [Nadal-Verdasco semifinal] match. It was just crazy.”

In her element holding court during the post-match conference, Serena said a bagel in a Grand Slam final is not surprising.

“You should never be surprised by anything that I do,” said a smiling Williams.

Replacing Serb Jelena Jankovic, Williams has defied critics by rising back to No. 1 for the third time in her career.


The last 19 men’s Slams have been won by a European…

Serena Williams has reached the finals at the last three Slams, winning the last two. She is halfway to another Serena Slam. She is 10-3 in Slam finals now…

Dinara Safina is 0-2 in her first two Slam finals. Brother Marat won in his first chance…

Serena Williams lost three games to Dinara Safina, the fewest she lost in any match during the tournament…

Roger Federer has never lost a hardcourt Slam final (8-0), but has never faced Rafael Nadal in a hardcourt Slam…

Rafael Nadal has won his last four meetings against Federer, including their last two in Slam finals…

Roger Federer is trying to tie Pete Sampras at 14 Slam titles…

Rafael Nadal is trying to win a Slam on a third different surface…

Ivan Lendl reached 19 career Slams, Federer now 18…

Federer is four Slams shy of the Williams sisters 17 career singles slams (Serena 10, Venus 7)…

Serena Williams has won more prize money now than any other female athlete ever (over $23 million)…

Rafael Nadal is 5-2 in Slams finals, Roger Federer 13-4. All losses have been to the other player…

Serena Williams had never won the Australian Open before with the roof open until Saturday…

DON’T WRITE OFF SERENA — Serena Williams in her pre-final diary for USA Today: “So, I made it to the final! I am so excited! I have to tell you I am more excited to make it this far — I think more than I have been before! Why, you may ask? It’s because I have been playing so bad! After my second round I actually was near tears! Yes I won, but I was playing (I thought) so bad that I was just mortified! I could not be consoled. I remember coming home to my hotel, and I layed in my bed, watched Desperate Housewives (because I was desperate) and I fell asleep no later than 7 p.m. Yes, and now I am in the final. It is a good thing, because for the past three Grand Slams I have been in the final! Cool, huh!? What I like about it is the consistency. People were writing me off, saying I am too much into fashion, acting, whatever. I am really pleased however to get so far consistently, and not in my top form.”…

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19 Comments for Not Ready for Prime Time: Safina Gags Aussie Open Final to Serena

Esquilax Says:

Good God. How is it possible to have such an extraordinary Men’s semi-final and such an appauling Women’s final?

Women’s tennis is the pits. Take the prize money back off them or split the tour properly and let them see if they can “make it”.

Andrew Miller Says:

Hello Tennis-X: I was wondering whether Tennis-X or Mr. Randall or Mr. Martin or Mr. Vach could comment on big surprises and lessons from this year’s Australian Open. I think there is a lot to say about Andy Roddick (I for one think his quest for improvement is an excellent one – he does not feel sorry for himself AND he makes it to a round of the grand slam that few expected him to be in, even if he met an identical result to year’s past. Can Tennis-X answer the question of Andy Roddick’s relevance, for the tour? Does fighting and scrapping matter in men’s tennis, and even if Roddick fails in his quest for one more slam, is his effort something to cheer about? Is he a good example for other U.S. players on the men’s tour or player’s on the women’s tour, for that matter? It would also be interesting to know what good things Tennis-X has seen from the transformation in Fernando Verdasco. (I thought he would only be the poster boy for “talent without meaning”, but I got to hand it to him – since the moment he got to Argentina for Davis Cup, the player has truly given every thing he has got out there, and risen to a level I thought his talent should put him at, and where his efforts now put him at. He was an underachiever; now he is meeting potential). What to say of Djokovic? And, most of all, is it worth comparing Monica Seles to Serena Williams? I see so much Seles in Serena Williams while Serena plays (not when she speaks, but when she is actually on the court), meaning at their best they are ferocious.

Thank you for considering my questions!

margot Says:

Ohmygod that final was so embarrassing. How can anyone get to a grand slam final and not be able to serve?

Russell G Says:

Women’s tennis has been riding on the coat tails of the men players forever. How can they justify paying these players the same. Serene was on the court less than 1 hour. It’s time to split the tournaments and let the women stand on their own. It simply is not fair.

Cy Says:

My God, that Safina is crap. They were using adjectives to describe the whipping she was taking…horrible, embarrassing,…!
JJ played Serena better at USO at least making it a match having set points.
59 minutes today. Huge humiliation. She deserved to lose. Waste of time.

jane Says:

Well I watched the first few games and Serena came out COOKING. Safina tried to hang with her but wasn’t able. One thing Serena has that SO MANY – TOO MANY other women’s tennis players is a SERVE?

The WTA needs to hire a full time SERVING COACH for all of the female players – except maybe the Williamses and Sveta is not bad either.

But definitely too many of them cannot serve.

Safina has some powerful groundstrokes, she’s very fit, etc. But in order to make it a contest, yes and well-contested, she needs to be able to HOLD!

Jane O-U-T. Rant over. But SHEESH!

Falseface Says:

Women’s tennis; Pat Cash said it best: Two sets of rubbish that lasts about a half hour!

Kimmi Says:

Jane, I agree. SERVING is the big problem for these girls. They need to learn the correct technics. Safina seem to get lucky when the serve go in. but when you look at her during a serving action is like you see the double fault coming. Why?? she is the big tall girl, it should be easy for her to serve

Very dissapointing. She should watch serena’s tape and copy her. safina toss is too long etc etc

If she carry on like this she will never win a grand slam, she was lucky to get opponents that were not aggressive enough towards her serve on her half of the draw but boy….

Vlad Korolev Says:

Don’t put down Safina so ruthlessly. Her semifinal was a very fine (for women) display of power hitting. The difference in the final was, Serena would not play to Safina’s strengths, like Zvonareva did. Serena took away Safina’s game by imposing her own. We should be celebrating Serena’s ability to demolish top players on a big stage and not condemning Dinara. After all this is not the first time Serena dismantled a great opponent. Her last AO final was every bit as dominant- over none other than multiple slam winner Sharapova. The one before she bagelled Davenport. So, leave WTA be. The drubbing of Roddick at the hands of Roger Federer was equally embarrassing for a top 5 player.
What if Roger wins in 3 easy sets tomorrow? Will you all agree that both tours can have their good and bad moments?

TD (Tam) Says:

Congratz to Serena on her tenth slam win! Sorry Dinara could not mentally show up for it but that has been the sad story of women’s tennis for a few years now hasn’t it? Mentally this is the weakest generation ever and it is a shame for women’s sports and for tennis as a whole.

Andrew Miller, it’s a known fact that Tennis-X hates Andy Roddick (and most of the other Americans even though this is a U.S. website so go figure!) so they will never write any unbiased thought-provoking discussion about Roddick’s career unless they can tear him to pieces and dismiss his accomplishments.

andrea Says:

a one hour final vs 5 hours and 15 minutes semi final? we know who got their money’s worth.

too bad. after the 3-0 start we turned it off and went to bed. i thought safina would bring more to the table. maybe next time. can hardly wait for the match tonight….

Mary Says:

If anyone is intersted, the Tennis Channel will be showing the doubles and mixed doubles starting at 10 tonight.

“Gags” funny, Staff.

freakyfrites Says:

I’d agree that this Aussie Open wasn’t great for the women with the big exception of Jelena Dokic’s matches (especially the one against Kleybanova) and I also enjoyed seeing Carla Suarez Navarro’s game.

Dinara shouldn’t blame anything on nerves anymore – that only works the first time you’re in a major.

The Williams sisters are the best thing going right now on the women’s tour – dominating in majors both in singles and doubles. The other women really need to step it up, otherwise the WTA should just become the Williams Tennis Association, featuring the two of them duking it out against each other every Sunday.

Von Says:


Well, we won 3 out of 4. Venus and Serena in the women’s doubles; Bob and Mike in the Men’s doubles, and Serena in the women’s singles.

What a pity our guy couldn’t make it a sweep for us, but SF is still a great result.

So true about Andy and those articles that strip him of his accomplishments. Oh, but wait a minute, he does liven up the threads and is always a good draw, isn’t he?. With friends like those who needs enemies.

Andrew Miller Says:

My hat is off to Andy Roddick, Fernando Verdasco, Jelena Dokic, Serena Williams, Safina and Monica Seles. That’s right – the inventor of the power game enhancement. Serena williams is not like Steffi: she’s Monica version 2009 with better serving and superior movement. I think that Steffi would have competed well against Serena, but she would have faced a tough time against that serve. As it was, they went 1-1 (one win a piece) and both matches went the distance, but Serena was on her way up, and Steffi, on her way out of the game. We know the rest of the story: Graf wins the French Open, and makes the final at wimbledon, and then exits the game.

Von Says:


You left out Bob and Mike Bryan. I’m happy for all of them.

Giner Says:

Serena makes $565 a second – then serves up a speech that seems longer than the final

Richard Hinds
February 2, 2009

AT THE Academy Awards, if the female actor has not already thanked her agent, cried and demanded the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Tibet before the strict one-minute limit, the music will rise and she will have to blurt out her words faster than the track announcer at the Angle Park dogs if she wants to get her message across.

Near the end of her acceptance speech after another blink-or-miss-it Australian Open women’s final, Serena Williams hummed her own music pretending that, despite having provided more entertainment with the microphone than the racquet, she was about to be given the hook.

She need not have worried. This was a rare occasion when no one harboured the vaguest thought the younger Williams should shut up. In fact, had she individually thanked every ball kid and dressing-room attendant, the tournament organisers – not to mention the broadcasters who were left with hectares of prime time to fill – would have been pitifully grateful.

As it was, after the 6-0, 6-3 humiliation of Dinara Safina in 59 minutes, the extra time could instead be used to re-open the tedious equal prizemoney debate. Except that, at this Australian Open, the argument against parity had already been made redundant. By a single figure. The peak audience of 3.242 million that watched Jelena Dokic lose to Safina in the quarter-finals. That exceeded the corresponding figure for the brilliant Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco epic by more than 1.3 million.

Television ratings mean money. And, although much in her life has changed, last time we checked, Dokic was still a woman.

End of story. Except one bit. The far more justifiable equal-ticket-price debate.

Forget that Serena Williams earned $565 per second ($2m) on Saturday night. Instead, spare a thought for those who paid $289.90 (or $4.95 per minute) to watch. Unless there were a lot of nut jobs in the audience – as Jim Courier continually reminded viewers these past two weeks, the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result – you assume it was a different 15,000 people than who paid to see the previous three women’s finals here (Amelie Mauresmo defeated Justine Henin 6-1, 2-0, Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 and Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3).

At $4.95 per minute, the Nadal-Verdasco match would have cost $1541.74 per ticket. But such a comparison is ridiculous. Even at those prices, the Nadal match represented far better value for money than the women’s final.

The organisers might justify charging the same price for both the men and women’s finals by the fact the women’s finals program also includes the men’s doubles final. And marvellous entertainment it was. Mike and Bob Bryan beat Bill and Ben The Flowerpot Men in three enthralling sets.

Not sure of the peak rating. But The Flowerpot Men have almost certainly done better in their old mid-afternoon timeslot when toddlers could tune in.

A few more random observations from an entertaining fortnight in the Melbourne Park deep fryer.

– Given the orgy of cross-promotion on Channel Seven, can we expect one of the Desperate Housewives to turn to the camera and say: “Don’t forget. AFL on Seven. Swans v St Kilda. Should be a great match. After I’ve shagged the pool-cleaner!”

– The move from a 7.30 to 7 o’clock start for the night sessions advocated by former tournament director Paul McNamee makes perfect sense – particularly if the organisers are going to piggyback potentially long-running men’s matches on the back of the women’s singles. So don’t expect it to happen.

– Could the amateur meteorologist from The Times of London who wrote that it was too hot to play a grand slam event in Melbourne in January now please identify a month in England that is not too damp to play Wimbledon?

– At last it seems OK to say the c-word after Jim Courier observed Tomas Berdych was in the midst of a “major choke” against Roger Federer. That was hardly a secret given five doctors had climbed down from the grandstand and were performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on the spluttering Czech at the time. But still refreshingly candid.

Mary Says:

Giner- that article is too funny. I never thought about the ticket prices in connection. There’s something about Serena I just love.

Giner Says:

Is women’s tennis worth it?

Mark Stevens

February 02, 2009 12:00am

THERE has always been an underlying feeling at recent Australian Opens that the women’s game is flawed.

It’s just that the grunt of Maria Sharapova, the artistry of Justine Henin and brute force of Serena Williams was enough to keep everyone distracted from the problems bubbling beneath.

With Sharapova and Henin missing this year, the weakness was exposed for all to see.

Throughout the first 11 days of the tournament, those still delusional about the women having as much pulling power as the men must have come to their senses.

Yes, the Jelena Dokic story was gripping, but too many women’s matches were littered with unforced errors.

Then in the space of 24 hours, across Friday and Saturday, it all came to a head.

This was no ordinary wake-up call. It was like being slapped across both cheeks with a slimy mullet.

The gap between the quality of men’s and women’s game has never seemed wider.

Yet the gap in prizemoney has been closed. Both the men’s and women’s winners walk away with $2 million.

Equal prizemoney is a generous gesture, but it doesn’t add up.

Anybody who sat through the Fernando Verdasco-Rafael Nadal epic on Friday night and followed up by watching the Williams-Dinara Safina cakewalk on Saturday night would have to agree.

The men who have busted a gut, playing best of five sets and at times sending the crowds into a frenzy, have every right to feel short changed.

Verdasco picked up the same pay cheque for his semi-final heroics as Russian Vera Zvonareva, who bowed out in the semis a day earlier in a forgettable two-set encounter.

And the loser of last night’s marquee match walked away with the same as Safina, stoic throughout the early rounds but embarrassingly uncompetitive when it counted most in a 6-0 6-3 loss to Williams.

Safina’s capitulation was excruciating to watch. Double-faults; nervous missed forehands; desperate drop shots . . . you had to look away.

Safina made 21 unforced errors in 59 minutes. A night earlier, Nadal made just 25 in 5hr14min.

The was some pleasure in seeing Williams at the top of her game, but as a contest it was a prime-time stinker for Channel 7.

Full credit to tournament boss Craig Tiley for backing a night women’s final. It’s a correct call — and the event continues to thrive as Melbourne’ best international event.

But what is out of Tiley’s hands is the women’s product he has to work with. The depth of quality, remembering Kim Clijsters and Lindsday Davenport are other recent retirees, just is not there.

There is a sameness about the women’s game. As Seven commentator Tracy Austin often said during the past fortnight, few players have a plan B.

Where’s the science and subtlety? Any chance of Safina starting to use slice, take the pace off the ball or (heaven forbid) even come to the net to put Williams off? Hell, no. Plan A is all she had.

And yes, too many women turned up looking out of shape. Anyone with two eyes could see that . . . you don’t need a degree in physical science.

Marion Bartoli and Kaia Kanepi were obviously carrying extra kilos and why is everyone so sensitive about it? Imagine the flack Lleyton Hewitt would cop if he turned up with “excess baggage”. He’d cop it far worse.

What Roger Rasheed said about women in general in his role as a commentator was spot on. Others in the hallways may have whispered but agreed.

Take away the Dokic story and it was not a great fortnight for the credibility of women’s tennis.

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