Sport

Serena thumps Safina in final

Neil Sands

Serena Williams thrashed Russia's Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open title on Saturday.

Serena Williams thrashed Russia’s Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open title on Saturday, bringing up her 10th Grand Slam tally and reclaiming the world number one ranking.

In one of the most one-sided deciders to date, the American utterly dominated third seed Safina, allowing her opponent to win only eight points in the first set on her way to claiming the championship in less than an hour.

“I’m so excited ... I clearly love playing here and I get great support here. I don’t get that every place I go,” she said after winning the first women’s night final played in the Rod Laver Arena.

The win means Williams (27) who said before the tournament that she was the best player in the world but entered the tournament as second seed, will take the world number one ranking off Serb Jelena Jankovic.

She also became the highest to-date prize money winner in women’s sport during the tournament and won the women’s doubles title with her sister Venus on Friday.

Safina, whose brother Marat Safin won the men’s title in 2005, had aimed to enter the history books as the part of the only brother-sister combination to hold Grand Slam titles.

Instead, she narrowly avoided entering the record books as being on the wrong end of the worst drubbing in a final in the tournament’s history.

“Serena was too good, I was only a ball boy on the court today,” the 22-year-old Russian said.

“Sorry to the people who supported me, today I let you down a little bit but I’ll come back next year and try and do better.”

Only Steffi Graf in 1994 and Margaret Smith in 1962 have posted more comprehensive victories in the decider, both winning 6-0, 6-2.

Williams continued a sequence of winning the Australian Open title in odd-numbered years, with her previous wins coming in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Safina also lost her only previous Grand Slam final at the French Open last year but Williams was full of praise after the match.

“Dinara has a good future,” she said. “She’s hitting the ball so hard I just had to go for broke.

“Thanks to her for putting on a great show for women’s tennis.”

Williams received an early confidence booster when she won the toss and chose to serve, comfortably holding to take the first game.

The American’s venomous ground strokes immediately found their mark and she attacked Safina’s serve from the outset, with the rattled Russian coughing up three double faults to gift Williams her first break.

She then held Safina to love in the next, taking the score to 3-0 after just 11 minutes.

A shellshocked Safina then went down another break as Williams relentlessly piled on the pressure to go up 6-0 against an opponent once noted for her emotional meltdowns.

Safina desperately tried to regroup and broke Williams in the first game of the second set but could not stop the rampaging American and conceded the match when she hit a drop shot wide after 59 minutes. - AFP

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