Birthday girl Safina targets Grand Slam title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> World number one and birthday girl Dinara Safina said she is determined to underline her place at the top of the rankings with a Grand Slam title soon.

Updated: April 28, 2009 17:51 IST
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World number one and birthday girl Dinara Safina said on Monday she is determined to underline her place at the top of the rankings with a Grand Slam title soon.

Safina, who turned 23 on Monday, is contesting the WTA event here this week on clay as she begins her preparation to try and win the French Open which starts at Roland Garros on May 23.

"It's going to be another step," said the determined Russian.

"You have steps to take in your life. The first step for me was either to win a Grand Slam or become number one, so I already have one.

"For the next step, I have my whole career and I'm going to continue working hard to win a Grand Slam.

"This year, next year - I still have many years in front of me and I think I can do it.

"I've been already in two finals and I just want to have another chance to go for it."

Having lost last June's French Open final to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3, Safina was then well beaten in this year's Australian Open final when she lost 6-0, 6-3 to Serena Williams in the two Grand Slam finals she has contested.

And she admits the pressure of being on the verge of Number One status had played on her mind as she battled it out to claim top place with her predecessor Williams.

"I had my chance in the Australian final, but I didn't go for it," said Safina, the younger sister of former men's World Number One Marat Safin.

"I didn't want Serena to lose the World Number One status, I wanted to win something and to say I did it, that I took it with my hands.

"I had also a chance to go top in Dubai, then Indian Wells, Miami.

"After Australia it was too much.

"After every tournament there was talking, talking, and I felt like every time I have the chance to become number one, but first there is the game and I got too tight.

"Also in the matches I was suffering too much, because it was all about winning.

"Now I can just go out there and play. I got my dream.

"It's finished, so now I can go and give my best. But then it was winning and only winning, and when you have the pressure that you have to win every match then I cannot played as relaxed as I used to play."

The Porsche Grand Prix will also feature six other top ten players including Russian Olympic champion Elena Dementieva and 2008 tournament winner Jelena Jankovic from Serbia.

Belarus teenager Victoria Azarenka will be looking to prove her surprise defeat of Serena Williams in the final of the WTA Miami event was no fluke earlier this month.

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