Sharapova Moves On, Safina Ousts Stosur
Published March 14, 2011 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The resurgence of Dinara Safina got another boost in Indian Wells on Monday night, as the former No.1 - now No.108, but that will change fast - scored a 76(2) 64 win over No.4 seed Sam Stosur.
Safina, who hadn't won three straight matches in more than a year, still faced some serving demons, her five aces outweighed by 16 double faults; but the big returns and powerful groundstrokes were vintage Safina as she scored her first Top 4 victory since beating Jelena Jankovic at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
"I just want to enjoy the moment," Safina beamed in her press conference. "It wasn't my day for serving, but it might have been from the baseline. I still managed to win a match, which is a good thing. And I stayed tough mentally.
"In 2008 it was going like this. Sometimes I watch my matches and think, 'God, I wasn't even thinking.' Now there are times I think five times before each shot."
Next up for Safina will be the only other Russian ever to reach No.1, Maria Sharapova. Sharapova, seeded No.16, cruised past No.20 seed Aravane Rezai, 62 62. "It was very different to my first opponent, who made me hit a lot of balls," said Sharapova, who won a near-three hour marathon against Anabel Medina Garrigues in her opener. "This was someone who could hit a winner from any part of the court really. When she's on, she can be one of the toughest players to play against; she had a lot of errors today, though."
Sharapova and Safina are tied in their head-to-head series, 3-3, but Sharapova is 2-0 on hardcourts, those two wins both coming in straight sets.
"Maria is also coming back from an injury, but she's ranked a little higher than me, just a hundred spots," Safina joked in her press conference; Sharapova is actually ranked 90 spots higher at No.18. "She's a great player and a great competitor. I'll do my best and whoever is stronger tomorrow will win."
Sharapova commented on Safina's resurgence: "You're never always on a high level. You have to go through these patches of being down and losing matches and going through injuries that sometimes force you out of the game for a while. Thankfully she has a great team around her. You can say she's really lucky she can call up her mom and ask for her voice. I think that's important - my parents have always been there for me. They've always encouraged me to be true to who I am. Obviously it's a long process to come back. Is it something that's worth it? It is, because you do it from such a young age and you compete for so long that it's such a bore when you don't do it anymore. It really is.
"As much as we hate the grind of getting up in the morning and practicing for hours on end, I love playing matches and points more than anything."
In other late finishes, No.18 seed Nadia Petrova rallied back to beat wildcard Christina McHale, 36 64 62, while Peng Shuai edged Lucie Hradecka, fighting back from 5-2 down in the third set to get past the Czech qualifier in a duel between players who hit with two hands off both sides, 63 46 75.