Safina says she’s fit for delayed start in Sydney

January 6th, 2010 - 4:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Serena Williams Sydney, Jan 6 (DPA) Dinara Safina is preparing for her delayed start to the new season, confirming her participation in the Medibank International next week, a last-chance tune-up for the Australian Open.
The Russian, who lost her number-one ranking in her last match of 2009 in Doha, will find Serena Williams, the woman who took it off of her, in the field as well as returning star Justine Henin.

Safina had been due to play in this week’s Brisbane International tournament but had to withdraw a month ago due to the back pain which bothered her during the autumn. Her presence in Sydney - which begins Sunday - and even the Australian Open starting January 18 had been in some doubt.

“It’s a great tournament to prepare for Melbourne,” she said after a 30-hour flight from Nice. “The jetlag and the heat are the toughest thing about coming to Australia. But I’m 100 per cent fit. I’m ready to play.”

Safina got her initial taste of this Aussie summer during a hit-out at the Olympic tennis centre. The world number two has not played since October.

Her goal for the new season has to be an improvement on Grand Slam form after losing the Australian and French Open finals.

Also in the women’s field will be compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dane Caroline Wozniacki and Russian Elena Dementieva. The men’s line-up features Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Marcos Baghdatis.

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