Nothing impossible: Safina marches on
PARIS — The comeback kid has now done it twice in a row, lending serious credence to the slogan on the sponsorsupplied T-shirt she wore yesterday at the French Open.
For Dinara Safina, “impossible is nothing.” That word is now officially eradicated from Safina’s tennis vocabulary, after the 22-year-old Russian saved two match points and upset the No. 7 seed, countrywoman Elena Dementieva, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0 yesterday to move into her first Grand Slam singles semifinal.
Coming back from the brink of defeat against world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round Monday was impossible enough. To do it again, against another accomplished player, is more than just dumb luck or lack of finish by her opponents.
“I guess now I can really say this loud. Impossible is nothing,” Safina said afterward.
Down a set and two breaks of serve at 2-5 yesterday — just as she was against Sharapova — Safina came back and won the second-set tiebreaker, a carbon copy of Monday’s match.
She then ran it out against Dementieva, who showed little emotion as it all unfolded, and even less afterwards.
“I think it was very hard to play the third set after I had so many chances to finish the match,” Dementieva said. “Next time I play, I’ll try to stay to the end. This is it.”
With the two wins, Safina builds on a welcome trend that began three weeks ago in Hamburg, Germany, where she lost the first set to Justine Henin of Belgium, Serena Williams of the U.S. and Dementieva, and came back to win each time.
Earlier this season, it was just the opposite. Safina would win the first set, but lose the matches. She was up a set and 4-2 against top-10 player Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in Sydney in January, but lost. She suffered a similar fate against Shahar Peer of Israel in Fed Cup play in Israel in February, when she lost after taking the first set 6-0.
Safina credits the turnaround to the hard work on her physical conditioning.
“If you know physically you can do this, mentally it’s also easier, because you still feel like, I still [can] do something more.”