Safina Chokes Again as Williams Sisters Advance to Wimbledon Final
by Staff | July 2nd, 2009, 1:37 pm

Serena Williams was tested to the full while sister Venus received what equaled a played-out walkover against the choking world No. 1 Dinara Safina as the sisters lined up a second consecutive all-Williams Wimbledon final on Thursday at the All England Club.
Saving a match point, Serena Williams edged Russia’s Elena Dementieva 6-7, 7-5, 8-6 in the longest women’s semifinal in the Open Era at two hours, 49 minutes. Dementieva had bested the younger Williams in recent meetings, but could not put away key points, with luck falling to the Williams’ side on Hawkeye calls and net cords.

Dementieva broke to lead 3-1 in the third and had a match point leading 6-5 but could not convert.

“I feel very satisfied the way I was playing today,” Dementieva said. “The only regret I have, maybe I should take a little bit more risk on match point, should go down the line…I wasn’t sure if it’s Serena or Andy Roddick [serving] on the other side, 125 all the time. It was a huge percentage of the first serve. Even with that I was able to break her a couple of times and I was in the lead in the third set. Like I said, she’s a fighter.”

Venus steamrolled the No. 1-ranked Safina 6-1, 6-0, with the Russian exhibiting the throat-clutching tennis she usually saves for Grand Slam finals, where she is 0-3 career. It was the first appearance in a Wimbledon semifinal for Safina.

“Oh my god, this is I think my eighth final and a dream come true,” Venus told the BBC. “[Safina] is so talented and she’s played so consistently in the last year…I have so much experience on this court, so it helps a lot.”

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30 Comments for Safina Chokes Again as Williams Sisters Advance to Wimbledon Final

jane Says:

Doesn’t a choke usually mean the player had a chance, or lost points at a crucial juncture in the match? Ha! Guess it doesn’t apply to the Safina/Venus match then.

I wish, oh how I wish, that Elena had won! : (

Really? Says:

How did Safina choke?
Did you honestly believe that she would make the semis on grass of Wimbledon, let alone be able to beat a 5 time Wimbledon Champion?

steve Says:

I’m not sure Safina choked so much as she came up against the greatest women’s grass-court player of the past ten years.

MAS Says:

Sure she choked. Venus might be better but not 1, 0 better.

Safina is like Davenport. The Williams have had a walkover in tennis forever.

Like Tiger Woods. Even when Tiger is not in contention, look at how wide open the field is. HE HAS NO CONSISTENT COMPETITION. Yes, he is very good but nobody is a clear number 2,3,4,5.

Von Says:

Based on Serena’s and Venus’ form in their respective SF matches, I’d say Venus will win again, but Serena’s hungry, so maybe she’d come out guns blasting, an d/or pulling out all stops. Venus is the more steady of the two on grass, but overall, Serena’s the better athlete. Whichever sister wins I’ll be happy, because the USA will have had another women’s Wimby champion this year again.

SG Says:

didn’t see the match but a 6-1 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the defending champion on surface she dominates on? doesn’t sound like a choke to me. sounds like an out-and-out mismatch. hard to say what all of this means going forward. venus is third seed but you’d think she has to be the favorite in the final against serena.

SG Says:

MAS, Mickelson is the clear No.2. All you had to do was watch the last round of the Masters to clearly know who the two best golfers in the world are. And no one else is even close to these two at the moment. And yes, on grass, on a surface that is not Safina’s best, it is possible that in fact, venus is 6-0 6-1 better than safina.

Cindy_Brady Says:

Still can’t believe the way the ranking system goes.

How can Safina be #1 when she can’t win won of the 4 biggest titles in the sport. It makes no sense.

Seems to me the supposed BEST player in the world should at least be required to win a grand slam event in a calender year. How can someone be the best when they can’t win any of the biggest titles.

Stupid ranking system!

MMT Says:

As usual Jane, great question: what constitutes a choke? To me a choke is when you’re going along playing just fine, and then all of a sudden, for no reason other than the pressure of the moment, you start playing worse than NORMAL.

In my book this is a definite choke, so to answer you question Jane: Yes, you can choke for an entire match – just ask Natalia Zvereva. 6 winners and 16 unforced errors – yeah she choked. I mean Venus is a great player, but not that much better than Safina that if she plays to her normal level of effort she goes down 1 and 0.

No way.

jane Says:

MMT “Yes, you can choke for an entire match”

Thanks for your interpretation; I looked it up before I wrote that post, and here was the closest definition I could find:

“informal (in sports) fail to perform at a crucial point of a game or contest owing to a failure of nerve : we were the only team not to choke when it came to the crunch.”

Typically that’s how I’ve interpreted it – “at a crucial point of a game or contest”.

However, if we see it purely as a “failure of nerve” and take out the rest of that definition, then your interpretation (i.e., that a player can choke for a whole match) does indeed apply to Safina.

MMT Says:

Maybe I’m taking the long view – say the whole tournament or the whole year she’s playing great, then all of a sudden lays an egg against someone who has what she needs to get this monkey off her back.

It’s pathetic. Putting pressure on yourself is one thing, and her game is EXTREMELY limited, but it seems to work just fine in other conditions, so why she can’t do better than this when it counts, I have no idea.

Her coach appears to be very tough on her, but apparently no more so than she is on herself. Anyway, nobody’s forcing her to have him as a coach, so she can always fire him. What she should fire him for is not bothering to teach her anything other than hitting hard flat shots cross court. That alone merits reconsideration of the professional relationship.

Cindy_Brady Says:

Safina is a choker NOW. That may not be true in the future. She needs one break through like Lendl’s incredible 5 set comeback over McEnroe in the 84 French.

Lendl was branded a choker too until that win. Couldn’t win the big one.

I still don’t think Safina is #1 until she can win a grand slam event, but if she keeps getting to finals she will eventually break through.

Safina in the Ivan Lendl of woman’s tennis.

MMT Says:

Lendl did have that reputation, and he also reached #1 without winning a slam. But to me he was more of a quitter than a choker. He lost the final set of the us open final in 1983 to Jimmy Connors 6-0 – he just put no effort into it at all.

All the old champions who witnessed it were just lambasting Lendl – even Connors (of all people)found it distasteful found it distasteful. Although he did go on to lose that next us open final against McEnroe AFTER winning the French, Roland Garros was definitely a step in the right direction. For me the clincher was when he won the us open the next year – he went on to become and hold #1 (legitimately this time) for the next 3 years.

SG Says:

McEnroe gassed Connors 6-1 6-1 6-2 (or something similar to this) at the 84′ Wimby final in the finest display of tennis I have ever seen. No one called Connors a choker. I haven’t seen the Venus-Safina match yet. I’ll have a look tonight. If she’s netting everything and is generally making a ton of unforced errors, I’d be inclined to believe that there was some gagging going on. Then again, like Mac in 84′, maybe Venus was just that good today.

vared Says:

Poor Elena was really good, ugh Safina is useless.

Cindy_Brady Says:

Safina needs Sharapova’s brain and heart.

MMT Says:

SG: I hear what you’re saying, I only saw a couple of points, but looking at the numbers, it’s clear to me that Safin didn’t play her best. In fact it’s clear she played much closer to her worst than her best. After all, on grass, more errors than winners is generally a sign of playing terribly.

There are also two big historical differences between McEnroe v. Connors ’84 and this match. McEnroes was in the midst of the best year of his career, and possibly the best year in the history of the game (after his Lendl loss he would lose just one more time the whole year, excluding his Davis Cup losses in Stockholm). Venus is not blowing away the the entire tour like McEnroe was.

The other big difference is that by 1984 Connors had won 8 slams already, and had been in the top 3 for 10 years. Nobody would have said he choked for an entire match because he wouldn’t have. McEnroe had to play great to beat him as he did. Safina, on the other hand, was absolutely pathetic. The errors are unforced and they are staggering – he has as many error as Venus had winners – that’s pretty bad on grass.

I think the contrast with that match and the other semi-final also makes Safina look terrible.

SG Says:

How could Mac lose to Vijay Armitraj during his 84 campaign? Just unreal when you think about it. He lost to Lendl, Sundstrom & Armitraj that year. Two of those three didn’t even belong in the same stadium as Mac. Especially the 84′ Mac.

ShayHay Says:

Well I for one am ECSTATIC about today’s results. At least an American will win Wimbledon this year.
Not to mention the fact that Venus and Serena are my absolute favorites. I’m just hoping for an entertaining match.

Poor Safina just doesn’t have the game on grass yet.
Dementieva performed better than expected. Her serve has never held up that well, so she should definitely look at that as a positive.

The Sport Review Says:

The BBC commentators today were being very critical of the ranking system, saying that winning grand slams is the only way that a player should be able to make it to no 1

Cindy_Brady Says:

Vijay Armtraj was a solid grass court player. He gave McEnroe fits from time to time. Sundstrom a good Swedish player on clay, just had his number that day.

That 84 Wimbledon match against Connors was the finest I’d ever seen McEnroe play. Everything he did, clicked. A stark comparison to the McEnroe/Connors match of 1982 where Connors double faulted a hundred times but still won somehow. McEnroe elevated his finesse serve and volley game to new levels that day. Nothing Connors could do about it. Little did we know, a couple months later at the U.S. open both of them would be playing under the moonlight in another classic match. Connors was brilliant but McEnroe was epic.

/stroll back memory lane.

xmike Says:

This is my favourite piece of news related to womens tennis:

“The Daily Mirror reports that “Orange have launched a ‘Wimbledon grunting’ ringtone featuring the circuit’s best female grunters to give tennis lovers the full Wimbledon experience.”

Any that uses public transport should get one of those! After a couple of calls everyone will leave and you will have more leg room.

sensationalsafin Says:

Losing 1 and 0 is not a choke. Ughhh this is like the “Federer pummels Soderling” title all over again. Staff, you need to brush up on your sports terminology.

Von Says:

It was a beat-down!!

margot Says:

xmike: I’m going to buy a new mobile TODAY!!

Genie Says:

“It was a beat-down!!”

HAHA! Thanks, Von, for putting things in perspective.

andrea Says:

elena. you had the match. pretty disapopinting to watch it get away from you with all those unforced errors. so close, yet again.

kudos again to serena. how many times does it look like she’s on the ropes and then it all pulls together for her.

as far as safina goes….i went out to grab some groceries by my hotel and came back and the second set was over! the look on her coaches face was pretty dismal. her play would make me retire as a coach. ugh.

Will We Get Federer v. Murray Dream Wimbledon Final ? Says:

[…] read the headline here that Safina choked, but it’s hard to say someone choked when she won just a single game and really wasn’t a threat […]

Darryl Thompson Says:

“It was a Beat-Down!!”

Finally someone told the truth! Yes it was a Royal Beat-Down by the best grass court player in the Women’s game. The day before the SF, Safina told the world (via an interview) that when both she and V play their best tennis then they are basically equal. Hmmm, rarely have I seen Venus play her best (maybe never since I missed this SF) yet V has a combined 17 grand slam titles; Safina – 0. Maybe V simply came out fired up to show Safina was WRONG. How could V possibly play 2 sets and make only ONE unforced error??? Somebody was pissed – Probably that Safina comment + never being allowed to play on Center Court even while being the defending Champ and a 5 time winner. Believe it or not these slights cause V to want to upset the Wimbly apple cart.

Carolyn in Canada Says:

It is real good to see that Serena has survived her leg surgery. She has moved her game up another notch. Due to Venus setting the bar on power serves, Serena has adjusted to handle them.
She also is better at keeping the ball away from her opponents.
She is conserving her energy better..not wasting time on being frustrated about missed shots. Overall..she is now Number1 again.
All that’s holding her back is if she WANTS to keep winning!

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