Dinara Safina shares memories from 2008 Beijing Olympics


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Dinara Safina shares memories from 2008 Beijing Olympics

Former world no. 1 and Roland Garros champion Dinara Safina had to end a career in Madrid 2011 after numerous injuries that had kept her away from the top-50 since October 2010. The Moscow native and the younger sister of Major champion Marat Safin had four consecutive seasons in the top-15, becoming world no.

1 in 2009 after playing on a very high level in that and the previous season. In her prime years between 2008-09, Dinara claimed seven titles from 15 finals, finishing runner-up at Roland Garros twice and at the Australian Open, missing the opportunity to become a Major champion and make her career an even better one.

Aslo, in the summer of 2008 Dinara was the finalist at Beijing Olympics, losing the women's singles gold medal match to her compatriot Elena Dementieva in what was a perfect tournament for the Russian girls as they claimed all three medals that year.

"We were all from Russia and we took the whole podium. It was an amazing feeling. The best thing was that we all knew each other since we started playing tennis. On one side I was bitterly disappointed to lose the final, but on the other hand, I was really proud of our country and what we achieved in Beijing.

This was a day when a dream came true. Of course, straight after the match I was disappointed, but afterwards this became less so. We could hear the national anthem and could see the Russian flag. There were tears from the sadness, but there were tears of happiness for being so proud for my country.

I think the most difficult thing about competing at the Olympics was the first round because I was so nervous. In general I am always nervous competing in the first round because you want to win, but there I was doubly nervous.

The hardest thing about competing for a medal was the semifinal. I did not sleep enough as we finished the doubles really late. Then I played the Chinese girl Li Na and the whole stadium was supporting her. This was the toughest one, but when I won I knew that I already had a medal, whether it be gold or silver.

Sometimes it’s tough to realise I’m an Olympic medallist. You think you have a medal, but sometimes you forget about this and I have to remind myself. In tennis you have an event every week and every tournament is important.

Maybe when you are older you start to think about which trophies and which tournaments are much more important. Of course the silver medal is not something everyone has, so it makes it special. I was lucky to have played in Beijing because it was my first and last Olympics.

In London I was injured and could not compete. I then quit tennis. I had one opportunity and I took it 100 per cent. I would say to anyone competing that you just need to go out there and do your best. It will not be easy because you have a lot of pressure, but as long as you leave your heart on the court, winning or losing does not matter. You are already there and the whole of your country is supporting you."