MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Dinara Safina proved she could keep a lid on her emotions when it mattered by beating Martina Hingis 6-3 3-6 7-5 in the final of the Australian women’s hardcourt championships on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The Russian second seed secured her fifth WTA singles title with a crunching forehand winner, leaving Hingis frustrated in her build-up to the Australian Open, which begins on January 15.
Punching the air in delight, Safina ran to the stands to exchange high-fives with her coach and broke into a big smile as she read a message that had come through on her mobile.
“I’m sorry Martina, I had to take revenge for Rome,” Safina said courtside, referring to her defeat by Hingis in the 2006 Rome final.
Like her big brother and former world number one Marat Safin, the 20-year-old Safina is prone to losing her way thanks to her volatile temper.
But having clawed her way to the title showdown after coming back from the brink of defeat during a three-hour marathon in the semis, Safina made sure she would not let her fragile temperament get in the way of victory.
Instead, it was Hingis who have the angry outburst.
The frustrated Swiss had only herself to blame as she let Safina off the hook time and again with her inability to convert the majority of the break-point opportunities she earned.
“I’d like to congratulate Dinara, what a week (you’ve had),” Hingis said during the presentation ceremony.
“Today she was just too good and everyone should watch her because she’s gonna be maybe even better than her brother.
“Marat is such a genius. He can play unbelievable tennis. She (Safina) definitely doesn’t have as much touch but she has more will and desire.”
Returning to the scene of her comeback a year ago after a 36-month exile from the sport, Hingis appeared to be going through the motions as she surrendered the first set to a player she had beaten in both previous meetings.
But after letting off steam in the sixth game of the second set, the world number seven seemed to have overcome her demons when she conjured a magical lob to break Safina for a 5-3 lead in the second set.
Despite leveling the match after 74 minutes, the respite did not last for Hingis and she swiftly fell 3-1 behind in the third set.
A break in the seventh game once again put Hingis back on serve but Safina was in no mood to be generous and broke the Swiss to love to wrap up the contest.
“Coming here I couldn’t even imagine that I could win it, I had a pretty tough draw,” she said. “I’m really happy with the way I played the whole tournament.
“Today when I was warming up I was pretty nervous inside. But I could handle my nerves and put them into the game.”