Safina buries Melbourne ghosts to reach Open last 16
MELBOURNE: Dinara Safina buried some of her 2009 ghosts when she raced into the fourth round of the Australian Open by thrashing England''s Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.
It was Safina''s first appearance on the Rod Laver Arena since last year''s Australian Open final, when she imploded spectacularly under the pressure of the occasion to lose to Serena Williams in straight sets 6-0, 6-3.
There was a sparser crowd this time around, but Safina still took heart from a winning return to the sight of one of her worst days in tennis.
"I didn''t have good memories of the last match I played on Rod Laver Arena, for sure," said the second seed.
"I am glad to be back and I had to fight hard and make sure I won to forget the bad memories.
"I played some unbelievable matches on this court last year, saving match points and things, but had that one bad match."
Safina simply overpowered the unseeded Baltacha, winning in under an hour.
The Russian hit 19 winners, while her English opponent managed just four in another improved performance.
The second seed arrived in Melbourne with question marks over her chances of a maiden Grand Slam win as she returned from the back injury that hampered her in late 2009.
However, the 23-year-old has looked more comfortable each time she has stepped on court.
Safina could face fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the fourth round and appears in a favourable section of the draw.
One of the Belgian comeback duo of Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin is likely to be her semi-final opponent if she reaches that far.