Safina hits back in spat over who is world's best

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The defending champion at the Los Angeles Championships and the world No 1, Dinara Safina, said she has heard what Serena Williams and others have had to say about her qualifications to be the top-ranked player on the WTA Tour. "Ranking is ranking. I didn't do the ranking system," Safina said yesterday.

"If she [Williams] has some questions she can give those questions to the WTA, who is doing the ranking system," Safina said. "It's just the result of how you play the whole year, not just the four Grand Slams. I've been playing the whole year and I've been having great results all through the Grand Slams. If she has some questions she can go to the WTA."

Williams said before Wimbledon that everyone knew who the real No 1 was. After winning her third Grand Slam in the past year she wondered aloud how she could not be No 1 on the WTA computer and said, sarcastically, that "Dinara did a great job to get to No 1, she won Rome and Madrid."

Safina added that she did not feel any urgency to win a Grand Slam and that "it's just a matter of time and one day it will happen".

Maria Sharapova got off to a flying start in Los Angeles, beating Slovakia's Jarmila Groth 6-0, 6-4 in the first round. Still working to strengthen her serve following shoulder surgery last year, the three-times Grand Slam winner Sharapova was at times inconsistent in the second set, but more lethal off the ground. "Her game plan was to attack from every single angle she could," said Sharapova, who lost in the quarter-finals of the Stanford Classic last week to Venus Williams. "But she wasn't able to do that consistently because I was able to retrieve and make her hit more balls."

Sharapova was joined in the second round by the 10th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, a 6-2, 5-7, 6-0 victor over the American Varvara Lepchenko.