Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Safin signs off in Beijing with advice for Safina


Safin of Russia holds up a Chinese personal seal spelling his name that was presented to him as a gift after he lost his quarter-final match against Nadal of Spain at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing

Marat Safin and his sister Dinara Safina both made emotional departures from the China Open this week but for very different reasons.

Safin, 29, has decided to hang up his racket at the end end of the season after 12 years as a professional and organisers of the Beijing event held a special farewell ceremony for him after his entertaining defeat to Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals.

Nadal had found himself in the unusual position of having fans cheering for his opponent as the Russian former world number one continued to reap the dividends of being the first China Open champion back in 2004.

Safin was clearly moved by the post-match ceremony, which included a video message from Safina, and if he said thank you to the Beijing fans once, he said it a thousand times. 

A tale of two draws at Flushing Meadows


roddickIt has been a tale of two draws at the U.S. Open, with the men’s seeds advancing full steam ahead and the women’s field in disarray.

Eight of the top 16 women’s seeds have been given the boot at Flushing Meadows, while all 16 men have strolled forward — the first time men’s seeds have marched in lock step into the third round of a grand slam.

Lay off Dinara Safina


Safina reacts during her match against Barrois at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New YorkI have had enough of the unfair abuse she is getting so I’m starting the ”lay-off Dinara Safina” campaign.

The woman has had enough mocking for being world number one despite her failure to win a grand slam title. If she was 31 I may have some sympathy but she is only 23! Her ranking shouldn’t be a noose to be used to hang her with, instead she should be praised for her successful year.

Wimbledon raises the roof … whether they needed to or not



Like a man who comes back from the shops with a dirty big power tool and immediately decides the pictures need re-hanging, Wimbledon just couldn’t resist putting their expensive new toy to use … even if it wasn’t completely clear they needed it.

A little piece of sporting history was made on Monday as the new roof over Centre Court at Wimbledon was put in place for the first time in a match at the Championships.

Grasscourt season brings end to clay call farce


The 2009 claycourt season ended in style last Sunday with Roger Federer completing a career grand slam by winning the French Open, but I for one am glad the tour has moved on to grass.

It’s so frustrating the way umpires run over to point at random marks in the clay when a player contests a decision.

Do fewer tantrums = more titles?


safinaTemper tantrums are more or less a thing of the past for Dinara Safina, who said on Tuesday that her rise to the world number one spot had been helped by her efforts to stop her angry mid-match outbursts.

Ditching most of the rages — which culminated at last year’s Roland Garros with some unsuspecting flowers near the court being decapitated — seems to have worked for the Russian as she stayed on track for a maiden grand slam title by reaching the French Open semis (although she did break one racket along the way).

Sharapova shows she is more than a pretty face


I have never been a big fan of Maria Sharapova’s tennis. I prefer fellow Russian Dinara Safina, who I like to nickname ‘Marata’ (her brother being Marat Safin).

Many men will prefer Sharapova for reasons other than tennis but Safina can be more enjoyable to watch on court, especially when it’s clay.