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October 28, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Safina shrugs off the cynics again as No. 1 row hots up

FIVE good matches at this week's WTA Championships should confirm Dinara Safina as the first Russian woman to end the year as world No. 1 but whatever happens she knows some people will never be satisfied.

Safina, who edged back in front of Serena Williams when the latest world rankings were released on Monday, has spent a large chunk of 2009 as No. 1. However, the glaring absence of any grand slam titles on her CV, compared to the American's 11, has meant her authenticity has been repeatedly questioned.

"I don't care anymore. They can say whatever they want. I am where I am, and that's it," Safina said with a wry smile when asked the most worn-out question in sport as she prepared for her first match against Dane Caroline Wozniacki today.

A record 20 wins in 22 matches during the claycourt stretch this season is often overlooked while her feat of reaching the Australian and French Open finals this year was tarnished by poor displays when it really mattered in the title matches against Williams and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The WTA rankings are designed to reward consistency, and Safina's win-loss ratio of 55-15 is not to be sniffed at but grand slam titles are still the accepted measure of greatness.

Ranking system

"Call them to make a ranking system how they want to make it," said 23-year-old Safina, who will stay ahead of Williams if she betters or matches the American's run here.

"I mean, I'm close, I've been in three grand slam finals, so it is there. And I've been in two semis.

"Last year I was winning every tournament and they were asking me why I'm not number one. This year I became number one and there is no grand slam.

"It is every day going to be something. So let me take it step by step. It's not that I don't want to win a grand slam, of course I do. But I guess I need to work a little bit more."

Safina has been grouped with debutants Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, the third person to hold the top ranking this year. It looks a favorable draw on paper as she looks to keep Williams at bay.

"It's not an easy group. Everyone is saying like it's easy, but there is no easy group. It's the eight best players. You cannot pick the draw," said Safina. "I just want to focus only on myself. I don't care who is playing on the other side. I want to go out there, play my game, do the things that I have to do and that's it, and let's see the end result."


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