Dinara Safina`s generous pledge

Stuttgart, Sept 30: Russia`s Dinara Safina vowed to hand over the prize of a brand-new Porsche sports car to her coach if she wins this week`s WTA event in Stuttgart.

The world number three has had a good summer and is hoping to win her fifth title of the year having started her run by taking the Berlin Open title in May.

If she wins Sunday`s final here, Safina says she will reward her Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan for his faith in her by handing over the keys to her prize of a brand-new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio - worth 98,500 US dollars.

"Winning the Berlin Open in May was really the key to my tennis life," said the 22-year-old.

"I felt completely lost before that tournament.”

"My performances on court were a disaster and I was on the verge of calling it quits.”

"It is only due to my coach that I am still here.”

"If someone asked me at the beginning of this year if I could finish the year in the top five, I would have burst out with laughter.”

"But I have promised my coach that if I win a grand slam event I will buy him a Mercedes Car.”

"I had that in my mind at the French Open and I wanted to win it for him, but I didn`t - so now if I win the Porsche I will definitely give it to my coach - for sure."

Safina is in the same half of the draw as number two seed Jankovic who will want to keep up the momentum that saw her capture the China Open on Sunday.

With eight of the world`s top ten in Stuttgart, there are plenty of winners here with Wimbledon victor Venus Williams alongside Olympic champion Elena Dementieva.

But the top name here is world number one and US Open champion Serena Williams who is playing for the first time since she reclaimed top ranking and says competition in Stuttgart will be fierce.

"It is an avantage that the ranking is so tight at the moment and there is no special player who is bound to become number one at the end of the year - that makes things very interesting," she said.

"But I feel pretty confident of doing well here."

If the form guide holds, the first-seed Serena should run into fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals.

The top half of the draw also holds Dementieva as number four seed plus rising Polish star Agnieszka Radwanska.

Seeded eighth in Stuttgart, and with three tournament wins under her belt this season, the 19-year-old has the composure to beat anybody, but Dementieva is on a high after her win at the Beijing Olympic Games last month and reaching the US Open final.

"After the Olympics finished I found it extremely hard to keep up a professional attitude," admitted the Russian.

"Beijing and winning the Olympics was THE one goal in my life and I am so satisfied to have achieved that. “

"My next goal is: yes I want to become No 1 of the world and I know I can do it, especially since I learned to live up to my emotions - this is hopefully the key to it."

In Monday`s first round matches China`s Li Na beat Nicole Vaidisova 6-1, 6-1, while Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine beat Eleni Daniilidou in straight sets.

Bureau Report

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