Safina Is No. 1, But Still Has Much To Prove

Luke BroadbentCorrespondent IApril 9, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 27:  Dinara Safina of Russia returns a shot against Mathilde Johansson of France during day five of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2009 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Bruce Springsteen once proclaimed, “Everybody wants to be the man at the top.”


Well, come the start of next week the young Russian, Dinara Safina, will be atop the WTA rankings.


Seeing your name at the No. 1 spot must be an incredible feeling. You work your entire life to be the best at what you do, then for a fleeting moment it all comes together. You see your name where you want it to be.


You are the best player in the world.


It’s an old tennis cliché that the rankings don’t lie, yet many people will say that Safina may not be entirely deserving of the top spot.


Safina has undoubtedly been the nearly woman over the past year.


She was the runner-up at last year’s French Open, as well as this year’s Australian Open. However, the fact that she lost these matches was not the problem, it’s the fact that she played poor tennis when the pressure was on.


The very best at what they do, no matter what their profession may be, produce their best when it is needed most. The greatest people rise to the occasion, often thriving on the pressure of the moment.


For Safina, the time is now here to rise. Can she prove that she deserves to be at the top of the mountain?


Her form this year has by no means been spectacular. In fact, she bowed out of the BNP Paribas Open in the quarterfinals, then a couple of weeks later she only managed to reach the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.


So, it could be argued that she will only find herself in the No. 1 spot because of the poor play of everyone else on the tour. After all, these days women’s tennis tournaments are about as wide open as the Grand Canyon.


In Springsteen’s aforementioned ‘Man at the Top’, he also sings, “Man at the top says it’s lonely up there.”


Safina will soon find out that the American rock star is right.


The moment you ascend to the top of your profession, you have to be prepared for an onslaught of Biblical proportions. The pressure intensifies whether you like it or not. It’s extremely hard to deal with, just ask Ana Ivanović.


She’s struggled to cope with pressure in the past; can she really deal with it now?


The only way to prove that she should be mentioned as one of the best is by winning major titles, something she has yet to do.


Only time will tell whether she can finally make that giant leap, but unfortunately for her, so many that try and make that jump fall into the chasm below.


I guess this article poses more questions than answers, but then again so does Safina.