Dinara Safina: Losing is the Master Key

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IJuly 3, 2009

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Dinara Safina of Russia wipes her face during the women's singles semi final match against Venus Williams of USA on Day Ten of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 2, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

A qualifier would have played the Wimbledon semifinal with a bit more seriousness than what Safina displayed yesterday and she is supposed to be the reigning World No. 1... any layman would turn his head twice to confirm this piece of news, a grapevine about sighting a UFO will be better digested.

Was she thinking or was she playing like she was playing any ordinary exhibition match, is something Dinara only knows; as the best player atop the ranking charts there was no moment in the match when she proved that fact.

Undoubtedly, the Williamses are better grass court players and clashing against either of the two is a tricky situation indeed, but then when you are the "numero uno" player aspiring and gunning to get your first slam, it's your determination that puts you in the forefront than anything else.

Where was Dinara's determination and perseverance at that time? For the agonising 51 minutes that she spent on the Centre Court, it seemed that those adjectives had gone to take a walk in the park and were snickering somewhere in the background at her helplessness.

And then she started yelling, ranting and muttering...as if that could aid her instead of her tennis playing abilities; and there was her coach [who glared and stared like he could freeze the hell out of Safina]. He himself gets so tensed sometimes, that one of these days in a fit of frustration one can expect him to come down from the coach's stand and start playing as a proxy whatever the repercussions might be later on.

A look at the match statistics will be abject misery for the Russian's fans; 16 unforced errors as opposed to one by her rival and a paltry figure of six winners opposite to 16 of them by the elder Williams. Additionally, Safina's matches which aren't complete without her giving double faults made her offer two of them at the Centre Court thus completing the perfect recipe of Safina's exit from the Championships.

Choking at the last stage of every slam seems to have become Safina's motto; 2008 French Open, 2009 Australian Open, 2009 French Open and now this. It's become more of a habitual ritual than anything else which will continue till the day she masters her own inner demons before she comes out on the playing arena to master her rivals.

This intangible inner turmoiled side of Dinara Safina coupled with the tangible-clumsy, clobbered and hampered movement on the court acts as Safina's downfall time and again.

She isn't by any chance the tallest woman on tour but her movements are worse than the tallest; rigidity and tautness are rife when she plays not to mention a complete lack of variety in her game which debilitates her when she is playing against seasoned rivals and players who outwit her with their unhampered court movements.

Her game is still incomplete and to be brutally honest she has a lot to learn, a long way to trudge if she really wants to hold on to the ichiban position in the women's draw with wins that substantiate the same.

Sadly after her semifinal down-in-the-dumps performance against Venus Williams at Wimbledon, it's doubtful as to whether she has managed to learn anything worthwhile from her previous mistakes or not.