Dinara Safina beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships.
“It was my first match here in America. It was a solid match” Dinara said of her 2009 US Open Series debut.
Solid is a good way to describe Safina’s play all year, and this consistency has been her main defense when asked about why she holds the No. 1 ranking instead of a certain twittering, Major-winning Williams sister. It’s also why Dinara Safina is the first player to secure a spot in the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha this autumn.
But even better news for Safina and her fans: the knee tendinitis that has plagued her since the beginning of the clay court season has abated.***
“Now I don’t take anymore anti-inflammatories which is a positive thing for me.“ Safina said, a relieved smile on her face. “I was taking anti-inflammatories all the clay court season and all Wimbledon. I had a patella inflammation so it was really painful.”
“During the clay court season sometimes I would see stars every time I had to bend.“ Safina explained, saying that the pain particularly effected her serve.
“There were moments I was not even serving in practices.“ Dinara said, “I had a problem with my knee – that’s why I was compensating every time. I lost a little bit of timing (on my serve.) I could not bend on my left knee and I couldn’t get up.”
Dinara-watchers will remember a particularly painful double fault at the end of the Roland Garros final.
When asked why she didn’t site her knee injury as a factor in say, her demolition to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semi-final, Dinara said: “I’m competing if I’m stepping on the court. I don’t find excuses – this is my personality.”
Safina said she spent the time after Wimbledon training and working with a doctor. She has a physio traveling with her and says that her knee is “better.”
“There was a moment when I said to my coach: Oh I played the tournament (last week’s Slovenian Open) without taking pills, and I can finally serve without pain. I was so happy for it.“
Safina faces Zheng Jie of China Thursday night in the third round of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships. Click here to visit the tournament website.
***For those of you who may have missed any mention of Dinara’s knee injury previously, here is a snippet from her June 23 Wimbledon presser:
Q. You mentioned after the match you have a knee injury. Can you give us more details about how long that’s bothered you, what exactly the problem is?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I have a tendinitis on my knee. It’s been bothering me already since April, since clay court season. On some tournaments, I’m playing just on Voltaren, because like it’s so painful to go on the knee on the serve.
And it been okay. And then since I came on grass ‑‑ French Open was perfect. The whole tournament I played fine. Started last week already in Holland because of grass. It’s softer, so I have to push more. It’s been bothering me. I started to take again Voltaren.
Today I had to take one more than during the match because at one moment I just could not go down anymore on my knee it was so painful.
But I had a treatment here, a physio. So, I mean, hopefully I can play. It’s nothing that’s killing me.