x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dominant victory is not enough to satisfy Safina's expectations

The World No 1 Dinara Safina was not expecting a pat on the back from her coach despite demolishing fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko 6-1, 6-1.

The Russian world No 1 Dinara Safina serves during her second round match against Vitalia Diatchenko at the French Open yesterday. Safina won the match in straight sets for her 17th successive win as she targets her first grand slam title.
The Russian world No 1 Dinara Safina serves during her second round match against Vitalia Diatchenko at the French Open yesterday. Safina won the match in straight sets for her 17th successive win as she targets her first grand slam title.

The World No 1 Dinara Safina was not expecting a pat on the back from her coach despite demolishing fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko 6-1, 6-1 to storm into the third round of the French Open. Safina, gunning for a maiden grand slam title, will next face compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after the 27th seed dismissed France's Julie Coin.

After whitewashing Britain's Anne Keothavong in the first round, the 2008 runner-up easily extended her winning-game streak to 17 by bagging the first five games against Diatchenko. Asked whether her coach, Zeljko Krajan, was happy with her performance, Safina, 23, responded with a smile: "If one day he's going to be happy, I think I will finish my career. "He is never happy. Even today, he is not happy."

Safina, who has lost only once on clay this season, was barely bothered by the blip of dropping two game and wrapped up the win with a forehand winner after 55 minutes. Like her coach, the top seed would not get carried away by her performance. "I think I just played a good game today, good enough to win. She is still young, and I think she respects me too much," she said. One of the few things that might have annoyed Krajan was when his protege let Diatchenko, the world number 153, have a break point in the third game of the first set, although Safina shrugged it off with a jaw-dropping backhand winner.

The Russian, who dropped serve in the second set, felt her game was clicking after she had sometimes struggled in the early rounds of previous tournaments. "It is always tough at the beginning of the season. Some people, they're playing straight away their best tennis," said Safina, who won in Rome and Madrid earlier this month. "I think I just needed a few tournaments and with every tournament I started to feel better and better.

"Of course, it helped me to win two titles, and I just started to play better and better." Also through to the third round of the tournament is the ninth seed Victoria Azarenka. The Belarus player got the better of the German player Kristina Barrois 7-6, 6-5 and will next face Australian Open quarter-finalist Carla Suarez Navarro, after the Spanish player easily defeated the Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-4.

However, there was an early exit from the tournament for the 15th seed Jie Zheng. The Chinese player was well beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Portugal's Michelle Larcher De Brito. The Portuguese teenager, who is aged 16 and on her debut at Roland Garros next takes on France's Aravane Rezai. Dominika Cibulkova, the 20th seed from Slovakia, also won, beating the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, 6-1, 6-0. * Reuters