"I had never faced that before, whereas Serena had many times. When I play tier one finals [tournaments just below Grand Slam level] it's no problem for me. Some people have a Grand Slam title but never reach No 1. It was so big, but it made me so small on the court." Does she believe it important for her career to win a Grand Slam title soon?

But because this was a bigger final I put a lot of pressure on myself. It was very disappointing that I didn't play my best." Has she spent a lot of time thinking back over the match? "If I continue to play like this and I am fairly fit I think I will get there sooner or later. If not, I think there are going to be many more chances." She adds: "What I would like from my next final is just to go out there and enjoy it. When you come to see me playing, I'm beside myself with joy. I know you are hard-working and that you do everything you can to be No 1.

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"The ball never bounces correctly and the bounce is always so low. For his final question he asked her what she thought of him: You're my God. In any case, if you don't practise for three days, you're still as strong. It makes me cry, just like when I went to school and had bad marks.

Safin and Safina became the first brother-and-sister duo to have both held the respective top rankings, but more significant than that is that she is the second no-slam wonder this year to be ranked in that position in the women's game.

"I wasn't in the right place at the right time," he said, without going into detail.

"I won the fight." Safina smiles when asked what she could learn from her brother. "To do completely the opposite." Tennis, not surprisingly, is in the family blood.

His success has been a constant source of inspiration for his sister, who quite clearly adores him.

Winning the US Open at the age of 20, the charismatic Safin has always pulled in the crowds, even though he has not won a title since his second Grand Slam victory in Australia four years ago.

Dinara won her first International Tennis Federation title at 16 and within a year had made the world's top 100.

Consistent success, however, came only last year, when she reached seven finals, winning four.

Mikhail, their father, owns a tennis club in Moscow, while their mother, Roza Islanova, was a leading Russian player in the 1970s.

As a coach she has guided the early careers of Dementieva, the Olympic champion, Anastasia Myskina, who won the 2004 French Open, and her own children.

She lost her first Grand Slam final in Paris to Ivanovic, went out to Serena Williams in the US Open semi-finals and won silver at the Olympics.