Slam-less Safina to Take No. 1 from Serena — Warranted?
by Staff | April 9th, 2009, 10:32 am

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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10 Comments for Slam-less Safina to Take No. 1 from Serena — Warranted?

zola Says:

*** “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.”***

ince and wise words. I hope she can win a slam this year.

Ra Says:

Congratulations, Dinara Safina!


I completely agree.

tennisontherocks Says:

yes, she has not won a slam and was mauled by Serena in aus final. but she is 2 times slam finalist+semi at US open+4 tier 1 titles..surely has earned it by working hard…so congrats, Dinara.

But I am confused here about the numbers. Safina played both amelia and Charleston last year and lost early. But Serena skipped amelia island and is defending Charleston. So only if she fails to show up or loose early at Charleston, she will loose any points. Yes, the point distribution has changed this year, but don’t think it should make up for 200 point difference they have right now…and WTA press release gives no details about these things.

zola Says:


indeed, serena has lots of points from Charleston. I don’t know how Safina is taking over. Has serena pulled out from Charleston? The news clips I read did not explain how this transition is possible. will be interesting to know.

Colin Says:

It is silly to put that “warranted” with a question mark in the heading. Presumably the points system says Safina will get the top spot, and if so it’s not a question of warranted or unwarranted. It’s not someone’s opinion, like a score for artistic content in ice skating, it’s a points system. If we don’t like the results, let’s campaign for a change in the system, not talk as if it were something else. One expects that from ignorant people posting remarks, not from the staff writers.

MMT Says:

Colin: “If we don’t like the results, let’s campaign for a change in the system, not talk as if it were something else.”

Maybe this is precisely what that was intended to do. I doubt anyone has a problem with Safina’s response to reaching #1, so it has to be an argument against the system.

I happen to agree with the writer (ducking!). The points system doesn’t seem to be commensurate with what the players and fans care about. Safina is handling it a little better than Jankovic did, but it still…

BTW – here’s a link to the rankings – it’s byzantine, to say the least. I’d just reduce the points for all non-slam related tournaments by 25% and drop premier mandatory to 800 points.

zola Says:

I think Colin has a point that it is not Safina or Jankovic’s fault if they reach No 1 without having any slams. It just shows how weak the WTA is right now.

Thanks MMT for the link to the WTA ranking system. To me it is not too different from the ATP. But perhaps WTA does not have the mandatory 1000 participation and I don’t know which ones are counted for the ranking. Perhaps it allows the players to accumulate and use points from smaller tournaments towards their rankings, whereas in ATP GSs and Mandatory masters are the biggest part of the point system.

So, yes, a change in the points and ranking system, can make WTA some good. but meanwhile, this is not a flaw for Safina or Jankovic. They did better than the others and congratulations to them.

Colin Says:

Well, I ‘m not too sure about “what the fans care about”. We mustn’t be too democratic here! If it were left to the “fans”, the extreme anti-Federer bunch would rank him about 500th, and then there would be all the folk who call Murray boring and say Nadal is just a “moonballer”.
I don’t even pretend to understand how the points system works, but then my maths teacher at school once remarked to me that I’d be the death of him. No doubt the system needs changing, but it must remain impersonal and arithmetical.

tenn_s Says:

remember that serena won three consecutive tournaments during this time last year (one in india, then miami then charleston)? this means that she has a lot of points to defend. problem was the tournament in india was moved due to security problems, and then she didn’t win miami this year.

Keith Says:

I am not going to pretend I understand or like the arguements about who is the number 1 player amongst the ladies…
I think the points system to reach number 1 indicates the most consistent player… not the best. I completely agree that you can not be a best player if you haven’t won a slam. Tennis players are graded / judged by the number of slams, then number of titles. Who really cares who is number 1? Serena has a point, she won all the slams and beat safina in most recent match.

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