Safina overpowers Elena Baltacha

The last time Dinara Safina played a Briton in a Grand Slam tournament she beat Anne Keothavong at the French Open without losing a single game. Elena Baltacha, Keothavong’s successor as British No 1, at least had the consolation of winning three games in the third round of the Australian Open here today before falling victim to the Russian’s power. Safina won 6-1, 6-2 in 57 minutes to take her place in the last 16.

Although Safina has yet to win a Grand Slam title and was humiliated by Serena Williams in last year’s final here, it is easy to forget that the Russian is still the world No 2. In the last seven Grand Slam tournaments she has reached three finals and two semi-finals.

Baltacha, in contrast, only broke into the world’s top 100 last September and was making just her fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament away from Wimbledon. This was the first time she had made the main draw thanks to her ranking, having climbed to a career-high No 83 earlier this week. Victories earlier in the week over Pauline Parmentier and Kateryna Bondarenko, the world No 32, had taken Baltacha into the third round here for the second time.

While Safina’s game lacks variety, most opponents struggle to cope with the sheer weight of her shots. Baltacha was regularly on the back foot in her own service games as Safina struck some ferocious returns. The pressure told as the Briton dropped her serve with double faults on break point on three different occasions. Although Baltacha hit some decent forehands, Safina struck 19 winners to her opponent’s four.

Baltacha has played on Centre Court at Wimbledon but this was her first appearance on the main show court at any of the other Grand Slam tournaments. Rod Laver Arena was barely a quarter full for the 11am start, though the gaps in the crowd grew smaller as the match progressed.

The Briton could hardly have made a better start, winning the first point after a lengthy baseline rally, but Safina was quickly into her stride and broke serve at the first opportunity. Baltacha broke back immediately, taking advantage of Safina’s mistakes, and drew the biggest applause so far with a confident winning volley in the next game, but the Russian’s power quickly put her on top and she closed out the first set after 26 minutes with a service winner.

Baltacha’s best spell came at the start of the second set, which she opened by winning a service game to love. More confident serving helped her to hold again to trail 3-2, but from that point onwards Safina took control and the Russian sealed victory with a crisp forehand winner.

“It was difficult,” Baltacha said afterwards. “It was a great experience for me to play the world No 2. All credit to Safina. I think she played really well today. It was difficult because I don't play top 10 every week. I knew for me to get anywhere near her, I'd have to play very, very well and she put a lot of pressure on me out there today, especially on my serve. I knew if I didn't get the first serve in that she would be all over my second serve.

“But I've got to look in a very positive way. I put myself into a great situation. I've made the third round this week. I earned my place on Rod Laver today to play Safina, so I'm really proud of that.”

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice