[Photos: Kim Clijsters on the court]
After the match, the ever-congenial Clijsters felt the need to apologize for beating Safina so badly (via Reuters):
"I do feel bad, I even caught myself at 5-0 in the second set, she hit a couple of backhands down the line, I was like 'Yeah, that's it!'
"When she doesn't play against me, I'm rooting for her because I want her to get back into it and build confidence. But I wouldn't give her a (sympathy) game."
Before the match, some television analysts were playing up the fact that it could be a tough match for Clijsters and that Safina was a dangerous first-round opponent for the woman many (including myself) picked to win the entire tournament. But all those expectations are simply a reflex to seeing the name "Safina" on the draw sheet. There had been no recent signs she'd be making a return to form. The 24-year-old came into Melbourne on a five-match losing streak. She lost 6-0, 6-1 to Marion Bartoli in Hobart in her previous tournament. She hasn't won a Grand Slam match since last year's Australian. She's lost.
[Photos: Venus' latest dress may be shortest yet]
Safina seems to realize this better than anyone. "I didn't know how to win a point," Safina told reporters while biting her lip. "There was nothing I could do to hurt her. I'm scratching my head thinking what the hell I am doing."
There's a chance Safina could drop out of the top 100 in the rankings after the tournament. From No. 2 to No. 100 in one year. It's been a long, quick fall for Dinara Safina.
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- Dinara Safina