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January 12, 2010

Dinara Safina


D. SAFINA/A. Radwanska
7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did that feel?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, a little bit of slow start, but it was a start. It was a winning start.
I mean, it's not easy to play against her. She's a top 10 player and she plays very smart. I had a little bit, I don't know, like miss-timing until 5-Love, but then I found my rhythm and my game.
I think it was a very solid match for me for the first match of the year.

Q. How come it took until Love-5 you were down? Was it the back entirely, or the fact that you haven't played for a long time?
DINARA SAFINA: It was a little bit of everything. First it was first match of the year. I still -- I mean, you work off-season and still trying to find your shots, what you're able to do. So I think it was more just finding my game.
Once it clicked it went all the way. I mean, to win basically nine games against a top 10 player in a row, it's not easy. But I found the winning games.

Q. Did you have any problems with your back?
DINARA SAFINA: Oh, thanks God it's fine. I had sad end of the year last year, but, you know, I had a big rest. I took really good care about it, and thanks God I can play tennis now.

Q. You wanted to play Brisbane but you weren't ready. Were you worried at any time you that wouldn't be ready to come to Australia?
DINARA SAFINA: No. I have a very good doctor and I spoke with him. He told me of course I will be able to play in Australia.
But the question for Brisbane was it was still too early. I started just middle of December to hit backhand, so I was not able to hit it. It would be too short for me. Even it's one week difference, but you would stop the preparation before already.
So I still needed one more week that I could play full and run on the court, because I could not run on the court for a long time.

Q. Were you able to practice before? Were you able to hit the backhand before mid-December?
DINARA SAFINA: No. No, I was not allowed to hit backhands.

Q. Nothing at all before?
DINARA SAFINA: No, I had only the to play forehands. This was because this was the shot that didn't you cause me any pain. Because on the rotation on the backhand, I could not -- like in Doha, every time I would have to turn I would see the stars.
So I could not move and I could not hit the backhands, so it was all the day forehands. No serve, nothing.

Q. What exactly what the problem?
DINARA SAFINA: I had a bone edema on L4, L5 -- no, L5, S1.

Q. Are you getting ongoing treatment? What are you doing?

Q. Yeah. Are you getting ongoing treatment from a specialist?
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, I have a physio with me who my doctor recommended to protect my back. At the moment it's under control.

Q. Normally with back problems it's a matter of getting it right and managing it and making sure it doesn't get bad again. Is that the way it is?
DINARA SAFINA: No. I had inflammation in the spine, so for me it was not about having treatments. It was about to have a rest until the edema is gone. Because I had a very big inflammation. It was about rest, and, of course, doing lots of exercise to stabilize my spine.

Q. Are you continuing to do those exercises to prevent it happening again?

Q. Given all those problems, do you feel you're going into the Australian Open a little underdone compared to previous years?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, you know, like I came here to play some matches, to get the rhythm. I think winning my match today helps me. I'm looking forward for Australia.
I mean, if I was not fit I would not come here. It makes no sense if you're not top fit to come.

Q. When you said you sort of snapped in at 5-Love down in the first set, what happened that sort of helped you to click into your rhythm? Was it one particular shot that suddenly made you feel comfortable or a change in the mindset?
DINARA SAFINA: I was 5-Love down, but the only problem was I was missing everything. Everything was flying all over the place.
So once I win a game, I'm like, Okay, let's start like this. So I just started to play point by point, and finding my shots, finding the angles, and then it was okay.
Luckily, I won the game at 5-4, because she had a set point. Once it clicked, it started to be better.

Q. You must be happy the way you kept your composure when you were struggling so much that first set.
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, it's the first match of the year. You're happy to be back. If you start to cry in the first game of first match, then what can happen when it's gonna be the end of the season.
So, I mean, I was Love-5 down, but I was still happy to be on the court. And I was like, Okay. It was 20 minutes and 5-Love. Okay, at least try to stay a little bit longer on the court.

Q. How hot do you feel it was out there?
DINARA SAFINA: It was hot. Once you play not really that you feel, but when I finish the match, I mean, my body was I don't know, a hundred degrees.

Q. I guess that's also quite difficult if you haven't spent a lot time in the heat coming in.
DINARA SAFINA: At least the weather somehow helped me here to go with the jet lag, because it was not so hot. I think today is the hottest day.

Q. You've been here a week, haven't you?

Q. How much of the women's draw does having players like Justine Henin back, how much does it help the competition?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think it helps to the fans. They come and see best players in the world. You know, it just brings more excitement to the tour.

Q. What about someone like Justine, who doesn't have a ranking or a seeding and she'll be floating around in the draw, do you think about things like that at as a top player?
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, I see her the same way when Kim came back. I didn't see her that she comes back, I see her top 10 player. I see Justine the same. Still back top 10 player.

Q. In the last 18 months, you made three Grand Slam finals and reached the No. 1 ranking. What do you think you need to do to take the next step to win a Grand Slam?
DINARA SAFINA: First of all, to have another chance to get there. Those three mistakes that I even all the previous finals, you know, not -- just put everything together and not to make them, first of all. Just be myself and play my game.
I think this is the most important. Just to go out there and play. That's it. Not thinking about this is the final and winning, losing. Just this is another match.

Q. What do you think you learned from those matches, particularly in Australia last year?
DINARA SAFINA: Well, I think for me the most disappointing was in French Open. I had a very good chance to win, and I took it to -- I wanted so badly to win, and of course I didn't allow myself to play my best. So just to take it as another match. Of course when you play you think final, but somehow to take it a little bit easier.

Q. Do you feel like you've become more comfortable with each time you've been in that situation?
DINARA SAFINA: I mean, of course, you know, every time you get older you know the things, how to deal better. So I hope I will make it.

Q. One more question about the Belgian girls. Do you think Kim and Justine can be a danger for you at the Australian Open?
DINARA SAFINA: Of course. They're top 10 players. You take whoever from the top 10 is dangerous. Same dangerous as they are.

Q. When you look back rat the Australian Open last year, the final didn't go the way you wanted it to. Do you have fond memories of the tournament, or did the disappointment of losing wipe it all away?
DINARA SAFINA: In Australia I never went to the second week, same the what I did in Wimbledon. I never passed the second week.
So I made the final, and just one step missed. Of course it's positive.

End of FastScripts

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