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Dinara Safina Needs a Hug, Part One Million

Posted by gauloises1 on June 10, 2009

Great write-up of the French Open men’s final here.

The part that stood out for me though was this description of what a state Safina had got herself into before the final:

… on the evening before Saturday’s dispiriting women’s final, the 23-year-old Safina was so overwhelmed by the occasion that she shut herself off from her trusted coach, Zeljko Krajan, and anyone else who tried to get her to relax.

“Straight after the semis, [Safina] was done,” Krajan said after Svetlana Kuznetsova, a specialist herself in high-pressure meltdowns, cruised 6–4, 6–2 to claim the title. “She was lost in her head, and it was impossible to get to her. Before the match she could not even [eat] dinner. She had to cry for four hours. Emotionally she just collapsed.”

For years Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, waged her own battles with her head. Like Safina she had folded in her two previous Grand Slam finals, and she had come close to quitting tennis in ’08. But last fall Kuznetsova, also 23, embraced her roots by moving back to Russia from her longtime training center in Barcelona, and it revitalized her. “I want to go out there and have fun,” Kuznetsova said last Friday. The next day she proved it, capering about Court Philippe Chatrier, pounding forehands, mixing in drop shots, waiting for Safina to disintegrate. “She plays with too much pressure,” Kuznetsova said after the match. “I’ve learned about the pressure. It’s not my thing.”

So sad. But I wonder what Dinara thinks about Zeljko sounding off about her emotional state all over the shop?

No Responses Yet to “Dinara Safina Needs a Hug, Part One Million”

  1. Nancy said

    But I wonder what Dinara thinks about Zeljko sounding off about her emotional state all over the shop?


    Ugh really, I feel a serious urge to kick him mercilessly in the nuts.

    BIG BIG HUGS to Dina.

  2. Carrie said

    Well, hopefully she doesn’t read Sports Illustrated. 😛

    But my God, that poor child. It’s so sad to think of how terrified she clearly was. It really makes it all seem completely not worth it.

  3. Beckham said

    I was firmly in the Kuzzy camp and wanted her to win, but you have to feel for Safina, sooo much pressure, I did not watch the match but from all accounts she completely collapsed…hopefully like Kuzzy, she finds a way to get rid of her demons…

    But seriously Zeljko WTF? Thanks for sharing that Safina was a total basket case, like it wasn’t already well known…first thing Safina needs to learn, ween herself off Zeljko, she’s far too dependent on him..

  4. Tru said

    Yeah, I’d be very concerned that my coach was sounding off in the press, and revealing so much. He comes across as a wee bit of ann @sshole. jmo

  5. Sapphisto said

    The word that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is “trusted” as in “her trusted coach” the rat.

    This is how he repays her trust?! Can the b@$tard, he’s obviously not going to be able or willing to give her anything more than he has. And at this point, she needs someone with a little compassion and maturity and understanding. This guy doesnt appear to be giving her any of that, and she seems to be verging on addicted to whatever he IS giving her (copes ok in WTA tournaments where on-court coaching is permitted, falls apart at crunch time in the Slams… OK, I’m oversimplifying things, but still).

    Actually – not that I could ever see it happening – someone like Loic (Courteau) might be good for her. Older, wiser, calmer, supportive… he did wonders for Amelie. But I doubt he’ll ever work with a non-French player (and besides, I don’t think he wants to be on the tour full-time again).

    Anyone else have any ideas?

  6. SA said

    My love for Dina is being overshadowed by my complete and total hellfire anger at Zeljko right now. Hey Z, it might be wise to not tell a magazine about your player’s mental state before a final. It might be a bit more beneficial if you, I dunno, shut the fuck up. Just sayin. I’m all for a synchronized crotch kick.

    I inclined to think that she’ll be in the mix for RG, USO, and AO for at least the next couple of seasons. I guess it’s my biased Dinara fandom coming in here. But like Carrie I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t win one. This was the perfect opportunity really.

  7. Tennis Observer said

    Safina is a giant mental midget.

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