Dinara Safina did little to answer pre tournament doubts of her ability to win on grass, with a labourious performance against Dominguez Lino today.
The number one seed and top rated Ladies player was at times visibly rattled by Lino, and never really succeeded in finding a consistent rhythm against her weaker opponent.
In the first set Dinara looked suprisingly rusty and was lacking her usual power and precision. More than a few times she cannoned her powerful forehand into the middle of the net, and she found it very difficult to control Lino for her usual position of command, the baseline.
Lino was able to use the drop shot to great effect, and Safina, so often the dominator, looked like she was struggling to cope with finding a plan B, at one point she was 5-4 down.
The second set was better, but still lacked any authorative performance which you expect the number one tennis player in the world to underline their status with.
She broke Lino, she dropped serve, she broke Lino, she lost serve. There was no consistency and a slightly better opponent would have really pressured Safina( and we know that she isnt the greatest under pressure).
She may have sealed victory by eventually showing her quality advantage but the tiredness etched on her face, and the grunt and aggressive mutters to herself only served to underline the disappointed nature of her performance.... she was having to really concentrate and try, but still failing to really imposed herself on Lino.
As First Round ties go this went badly in my opinion. She must show next round that she has much more in the bag, or i believe this year will end in another diappointment.
As a Dinara fan I hope she can improve, but she still looks too far away on grass to beat some of the better players in this competition.