Overall, I've got a positive impression of Dinara Safina. I like her personality. I like her fight. I'm lukewarm about her tennis. I have enjoyed many of her recent interviews.
Steve takes a closer look at her in Looking Out For No. 1. Here's the introduction:
The crowd is dozing, the second set is dragging, and the woman across the net isn't giving Dinara Safina anything to work with. Peng Shuai shovels one ball down the middle after another—no angles, no pace. It's time for the top seed to take matters into her own hands. This, of course, means that she must let out an unintelligible, or perhaps Russian, scream that turns into a full sentence—maybe a paragraph—of anger. The sleepy Southern California afternoon is punctured. The audience, collectively stunned out of its torpor, gives the players the biggest cheer they receive all afternoon. Safina wins the next two points, the game, the set, and, eventually, not without more struggle and a few more self-lacerations, the match. After yesterday's upsets, the tournament needs its No. 1 seed. Safina, not at her best, has obliged.
Marat's little sister has made a name for herself. That she could become the No. 1 player in the world on Monday by making the final in the California desert leaves me a bit downcast. Color me Old School, but I need my world No. 1's to have hoisted a Big One.
But the rankings are the rankings. Let's see how she holds up under the pressure of seeing the mountaintop for a second time this season.