S. Williams Routs Safina in Australian Open Final

"I always believe I'm the best," said Serena Williams, with the trophy after a win that again gave her the No. 1 ranking. (By Rob Griffith -- Associated Press)
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Associated Press
Sunday, February 1, 2009

MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 31 -- Serena Williams routed Dinara Safina, 6-0, 6-3, on Saturday to win the Australian Open for her 10th Grand Slam title and a return to the No. 1 ranking.

It was total domination for the second-seeded Williams, who moved fluidly on the court and looked at ease in winning back-to-back majors, including the U.S. Open title in September.

Williams has won four Australian Open titles -- coming each odd-numbered year starting in 2003.

"I always believe I'm the best, whether I'm number one or 100," Williams, 27, said of regaining the top ranking.

Williams was so dominant that Safina, a 22-year-old Russian seeded third and playing in her second major final, didn't feel worthy of being on the same court.

"Serena was too good. . . . I was just a ballboy on the court today," said Safina, the 2008 French Open runner-up, apologizing to the Rod Laver Arena crowd after the 59-minute match.

After Melbourne's hottest three-day heat wave on record, conditions were a relatively mild 79 degrees for the tournament's first women's final at night.

Williams's win at the U.S. Open in September gave her the No. 1 ranking for the following four weeks, her first stint at the top since a 57-week stretch from July 2002.

She started this year at No. 2 and slowly worked her way through the tournament. She was struggling with her serve at times and had to fend off Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals when the Russian was serving for the match.

She lifted herself in the semis to snap Olympic champion Elena Dementieva's 15-match winning streak and was overpowering from the first game of the final, losing only eight points and winning 18 of the last 20 in the 22-minute first set.

Williams finished with 23 winners and just seven unforced errors, winning more than twice as many points as Safina, who double-faulted three times in the opening game of the match.

The first set was only the third 6-0 scoreline in the Australian Open final in 47 years.

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