(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Get
The top seed came into the tournament as the favorite. She had the best clay court record of the season, and it showed. By serving up a double bagel in the first round, she served notice that she was No. 1 and intended to play that way.
She stingily gave up only five games in her next three matches. She didn’t need to work too hard until her quarterfinal match against rising star Victoria Azarenka, whom Safina found a way to beat after dropping the first set.
Unfortunately the same Safina didn’t show up for the final. Perhaps owing to the pressure to win her first Grand Slam and prove herself worthy of the No. 1 ranking, she played tight, passive tennis. She chased after Svetlana Kuznetsova’s shots, looked imploringly at her coach, yelled at herself, and did everything but play the great tennis she played the rest of the tournament.
She ended the match with a double fault and soon after was in her seat crying. Safina managed to make it through her speech without tears and even managed to graciously thank her opponent, sponsors, and even ballboys. Still it was hard to watch.
“I was a little bit desperate on the court and didn't do the things that I had to do,” she said. “I didn’t stay tough mentally.”