Even if you believe
One week after
"We all know who the real No. 1 is," Williams told reporters in a not-so-thinly-veiled swipe at Safina. "Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world."
The comeuppance was swift. Serena lost her opening match to
The plot thickened Monday at the Madrid Open when Williams retired from her first-round match against
Fans have always admired Serena for her defiance and competitiveness. She's not in the business of making friends nor should she be. But the language of tennis is performance, an area where she's been compromised by her fitness in recent weeks. Monday's retirement marked her fourth straight loss and ensured she'll enter the French Open winless this year on clay, a demanding surface conducive to longer points.
On the flip side of the spat is Safina, the younger sister of two-time major champion
Safina has flourished since that Berlin breakthrough, finishing second at the French and Australian Opens and bagging Olympic silver in between. A four-time finalist this year, Safina is in the best shape of her life thanks to her work with fitness trainer
Serena only adds to her pressures by taking swipes at a competitor like Safina, who handled the entire episode with grace and reaped the deserved rewards. If Williams can manage the burden of No. 2 as adroitly as Safina handled her first week at No. 1, Serena will be back atop the rankings in no time.
Djokovic, whose uncle
But Novak, who slipped to No. 4 in the rankings despite his victory, wasn't the only Djokovic to make waves at the event. His younger brother
The 18-year-old teamed with
"This is not a surprise," Marko said after the match, echoing his older brother's famous chutzpah. "The result is real and I hope that we will win the tournament."
One day after the upset, Djokovic and Madjarovski were eliminated by
One of the world's coolest-looking sports venues makes it debut this week as Madrid plays host to the fifth Masters tournament of the year.
The Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, which for years was a men's indoor tournament held in October, kicked off its second life as a mixed event Sunday at the spectacular La Caja Magica -- a revolutionary tennis complex that's one of the centerpieces in the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics. (See below for a picture.)
The vision of French architect
Federer enters Madrid just 630 rankings points ahead of
Federer, who has a seven-month title drought, is winless in five tries against Nadal, Djokovic and Murray in 2009.