It’s official: with Serena Williams losing in Marbella, Spain yesterday to 95-ranked Klara Zakopalova, the WTA has announced that Dinara Safina will be the new No. 1 player in the world, as of April 20.
What better way to celebrate Dinara’s achievement than with a POP QUIZ? Answers are at the end:
- True or False, Dinara and Marat are the first sibling duo to have both held the No. 1 spot during their tennis careers?
- Besides Safina, which other Russian players (ATP and/or WTA) have been ranked No. 1 in singles?
- Who are the other three women who have held the No. 1 position without having a Major singles title on their resumes?
- In 2008, Safina became the first player ever to beat three different reigning world No.1s in the same season, who were these three players?
- Essay portion: Will reaching No. 1 help or hinder Safina’s future play, given her lackluster results since the Aussie Open final?
- Extra credit: How many Majors will Dinara Safina win?
Before we get to the answers, check out Dinara’s typically honest take on her current situation (via Telegraph, U.K.):
“It’s a great honour to reach the No 1 ranking and it is a dream that every girl who has ever wanted to play professional tennis shares,” said Safina, the runner-up to Williams at the Australian Open this year.
“It is even extra special for me since my brother Marat was able to reach the No 1 ranking and I am happy to share this achievement with him.
“There’s no question that while I am very proud of my results over the past year, I would have liked to reach this achievement in a different manner. I hope to prove to everyone over the coming months that I merit the honour of being World No 1.”
Dinara’s comments are in response to complaints that the No. 1 player in the world should have at least one Major title to her name. Yeah, I think that’s how it should be, but since Henin‘s retirement and Sharapova‘s six month layoff, nothing has been as it “should” be on tour. So good for you, Dinara, and enjoy it while you can!
- False: Dinara and Marat are the first ever brother and sister duo to hold the top spot on their respective tours, but not the first siblings to do so. Venus and Serena Williams are the obvious example, along with the Bryan twins in doubles. Am I missing any others, tennis historians?
- Three other Russians have been No. 1: Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
- Slam-less wonders: Jelena Jankovic, Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo (before her Aussie and Wimby victories)
- Safina’s 2008 No. 1 smackdowns: Henin, Sharapova, Jankovic
- Essay: Given Dinara’s headcase reputation, I think she’s going to have a hard time handling the pressure of being No. 1. She goes into Roland Garros with a truck load of points to defend and will likely pull an Ivanovic and be relieved to let the top spot go. Once she’s unburdened, I see her repeating last season’s success on the summer hard courts – and if Serena is injured/flaking out by August, Safina will get that U.S. Open title.
- Extra credit: I’m betting Dinara will win two majors, like her brother – one at the U.S. Open and one at Roland Garros. I’d like her to win more, but only if she brings her game back up to its top level. I can’t stand watching her play like crap and still get through matches.
Tell me what you think, students of the game. Participation is 50% of your final grade!
Photo: Getty Images via Tennis Served Fresh