The time is now for Safina to fulfill Grand Slam dream

Dinara Safina knows there is only one thing she can do to silence the doubters who question her right to be called world No. 1.

No sooner had the Russian climbed to the top of the rankings last month than the barbed comments started up in earnest. Most of the criticism centered around the fact that Safina has yet to win a Grand Slam title, and the commonly spouted argument insists that she will not be worthy of top spot until she hoists aloft a Slam trophy.

Safina doesn't care too much for the haters and heads into the French Open safe in the knowledge that even though she has yet to win on the biggest stage, her outstanding form over the past 12 months makes her worthy of her ranking.

"I don't want to win a Grand Slam because it will make people think that now I deserve to be No.1," she said. "I want to do it for me, to have the honor of being a Grand Slam champion. It is my dream."

It is a dream that she may never have a better chance of fulfilling.

Despite a tough draw Safina goes into Roland Garros in exceptional form, having won against a class field in Madrid last week. Furthermore, Serena Williams, who might have been expected to be her toughest challenger, is still nursing a leg injury that will hamper her play on the red clay of Paris.

Indeed, the biggest test for Safina may come from the youth brigade, with Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki and Alona Bondarenko all hungrily eyeing a breakthrough Slam.

There is also the small matter of Maria Sharapova's return to the tour. Even though Sharapova is short on match fitness, the pedigree which has spurred her to three Slam titles can not be discounted.

Yahoo! Sports Predictions:
Semifinals: Safina beats Venus Williams, Wozniacki beats Kuznetsova
Final: Safina beats Wozniacki

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