Tue Jan 18 09:31am EST
One year ago, Dinara Safina was the No. 2 seed at the Australian Open. The year before that, she made it all the way to the finals before losing to Serena Williams. On Tuesday, Safina suffered the worst loss ever by a former No. 1 player, a 6-0, 6-0 "double bagel" drubbing at the hands of Kim Clijsters. It's the first time a woman who was once the top-ranked player in the world had ever lost by that score.
[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.
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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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