Safin: 'I have to protect my sister'
NEW YORK -- Marat Safin threw a protective arm around little sister Dinara Safina on Wednesday after the Russian world No. 1 was slammed for her wobbly performance in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Ever since Safina ascended to the top of the rankings in April, she has come under a barrage of criticism as she has yet to back up her standing with a Grand Slam title.
A mauling by Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semifinals, where Safina won just one game, followed by Tuesday's match in which she almost suffered the humiliation of becoming the first women's top seed to fall in the first round of the Open has only served to give her detractors a louder voice.
But Safin, a former world No. 1 one himself, said people should just shut up and accept the WTA rankings.
"Everybody is hard on her why she's No. 1. Is she a real No. 1 or not? You open the page [of a newspaper and all you read about is], she made eight double-faults, 43 unforced errors. She struggled, almost lost to [an] 18-year-old," former U.S. Open champion Safin said after he bowed out of the Grand Slam arena with a first-round loss to Austria's Jurgen Melzer.
"Who cares? I mean, she's No. 1 in the world. I have to protect my sister. The poor girl, she's trying her best. She's doing really well. She gets the attention, but not the kind of attention that a person deserves, especially when you're No. 1 in the world," he said.
Serena Williams was one of the most vocal critics of the system as she struggled to understand how she could be ranked second despite winning two majors this season. However, outside the Slams, the American's last tour victory was in April 2008.
Safina on the other hand has been rewarded by a system that values consistency rather than the quality of tournaments won.
Safin pointed out that his sister, who has reached 15 finals in the past 12 months and won seven of them, was not the one to make up the rules and pleaded: "She didn't do the ranking. Deal with that. Leave her alone."
MORE TENNIS HEADLINES
- Del Potro, Fish, Baker out of French Open
- Querrey beats Stakhovsky for Nice quarters
- Top-seeded Tipsarevic upset in Duesseldorf
- Hsieh, Niculescu lose in Strasbourg 2nd round
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2009 U.S. Open
Women's singles: Kim Clijsters, Belgium
Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina
Men's doubles: Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic and Leander Paes, India
Women's doubles: Serena and Venus Williams, United States
Mixed doubles: Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott, United States
Follow us on Twitter
Audio & Video
U.S. Open shop