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.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little