Williams’ loss sends Safina to No.1 spot

April 9th, 2009 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Serena Williams Marbella (Spain), April 9 (DPA) Dinara Safina came third time lucky to lift the WTA top ranking as current holder Serena Williams crashed to a defeat in the first round of the new Andalucia Tennis Experience event.
Safina has failed for the last two events to take over the summit spot from the Williams, who was beaten by Czech No. 95 Klara Zakopalova 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 here Wednesday.

“I was trying to play my best tennis but the problem didn’t let me reach my top level,” said Williams. The American was carrying the same thigh injury which caused her heavy defeat four days earlier in the Miami final, which she lost to Victoria Azarenka.

Only hours after the defeat on Key Biscayne, Williams was photographed in a bikini enjoying an afternoon at the nearby beach - without strapping or apparent signs of pain - along with her sister Venus and a group of others.

Williams flew in here to play the $220,000 dollar event, arriving only Tuesday and looking unfit.

On Monday, Safina will become only the second Russian woman, after Maria Sharapova, to hold the top spot. Her achievement puts her alongside brother Marat Safin, who reached the summit of the men’s game in 2000.

Safina will be the 19th top-ranked player in women’s tennis history. “It’s a great honour to reach the number 1 ranking and it is a dream that every girl who has ever wanted to play professional tennis shares,” said Safina.

“It 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. But 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 No.1.”

Over the past year, Safina has won four WTA singles titles - Montreal, Los Angeles, Berlin and Tokyo and has been a runner-up five times, including the Australian Open against Williams.

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