Australian Open Women’s Finals Preview

Serena Williams (2) vs. Dinara Safina (3)

serenaAt 27 years of age, Serena Williams has seen more success than all the players on the WTA Tour combined. She has won nine singles Grand Slams and, after yesterday’s championship victory, eight doubles Grand Slams with her sister Venus. She’s been on the Tour so long that a distinctive pattern has emerged particular to the Australian Open: if it’s an odd-numbered year, Serena will win the tournament. She’s previously claimed the title in Melbourne in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Despite playing doubles and having to endure the sweltering heat, Serena has played well in every match and shown no signs of fatigue.

Her opponent is Dinara Safina, an aggressive Russian with a powerful forehand, an endless supply of energy, and an outspoken dedication to winning. It’s fun to watch her at press conferences as it almost pains her to play the sweetheart. Safina has never won a Grand Slam, though this is supposed to be her breakout year. But that’s a bunch of bunk — just about every player on the WTA Tour is supposedly having their breakout year. There’s such parity that nearly every player ranked in the top 10 will surpass world #1 Jelena Jankovic after this tournament. (Jankovic failed to make it past the fourth round.) Safina is the obvious underdog. She’s lost her last two matches to Serena in straight sets. If she were playing anybody other than Serena, I’d say she had this one in the bag.

Live coverage of the women’s finals will air early tomorrow morning (Saturday) on ESPN2 at 3:30 AM ET. It will then be replayed on Saturday at 9 AM ET and 8 PM ET on the same network.

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