Safarova claims biggest career title in Doha, Bascinzky comeback continues with Acapulco Crown
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Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
From Dubai to Doha, and from Rio to Acapulco, the WTA tour of the world continued this week with a Premier and International event, featuring some the of biggest names on tour. However, it would be two outsiders that would walk away with titles this weekend.
Lucie Safarova has won her biggest title to date, as she ended Victoria Azarenka’s 14 match winning streak at the Qatar Total Open, with a straight sets victory.
The Czech got off to the best possible start; breaking in the opening game, but Azarenka remained head strong to break back at *3-2. The match stayed on serve until 4-4, where Safarova re-established her lead. The world number 15 then served out the set, taking her second set point with a big serve out wide. That set the tone for the rest of the match, as Safarova started walking away with it. The Czech served well in the second set, not being broken once, and saving multiple break points. She established a set 2 lead, breaking Azarenka at 1-1. The former world number one found herself facing three match points whilst serving to stay in the match, but she saved the first two. Third time would be a charm for Safarova though, even if it needed hawk-eye to seal it. Azarenka appeared to hit a forehand wide, but the line judge called it in. Safarova proceeded to challenge the call, and hawk-eye showed that the ball was way wide thus granting the Czech her first Premier level title.
The world number 15 found herself going through a host of seeded opponents before even making the final. The Czech disposed of number 5 seed Ekaterina Makarova, number 6 seed Andrea Petkovic and number 9 seed Carla Suarez Navarro en route to the final stage of the tournament, and even though she out-ranked Azarenka, don’t let that lull you into believing that it would have been easy for Safarova. Azarenka is a former two time Grand Slam champion, a former world number one and had won all six of their previous meetings. Not like it mattered to Lucie.
“I felt really good all week here and my performances were better and better, and I just wanted to use the opportunity to really go for it and take the title,” Safarova said post match. “I think I just really enjoyed it out there tonight, the atmosphere, the crowd and just really went for every point.”
This was Lucie’s sixth WTA title, but the Doha crown is the biggest of her career thus far. The achievement has been crowned by a new career high ranking of 11 next week as she edges closer to the top 10.
“I’m really excited and happy about this because it took me quite a few years to get to this point,” Safarova said. “I hope it’s not a finish point and I can still improve. My game improved a lot the last couple of years. I think me and my coach, Rob Steckley, have been doing a great job together. It’s just hard work and also maturing a little bit. I think it’s just everything coming together right now.”
Azarenka had previously won this tournament in 2012, and 2013, but unfortunately missed the event last year due to a foot injury. The former world number one had a great week however, as she continues her climb back up the rankings after an injury plagued 2014. This was her first WTA final since last January.
“It’s been a long week for me. It’s been a while since I had that many matches in a row,” Azarenka said post match. “Sometimes the body needs to get back into that rhythm. It wasn’t my best today, but I tried my best.”
The Belarusian still remained positive about her progress despite the loss.
“And there’s been a lot of progress this week. A lot of good things happened, a lot of great matches. There are a lot of things I can take with me and can keep working on. I’m still really motivated. I’m obviously disappointed for losing the final today, but I just have to move on from this quickly.” She added.
In the doubles, unseeded pair Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears defeated top seeds Su-Wei Hsieh and Sania Mirza 6-4, 6-4 to claim to win the title.
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Timea Bacsinszky’s incredible comeback hit its highest point yet, as she defeated Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-0 to win the 2015 Abierto Mexicano Telcel Open title.
The Swiss may have been a little fortunate that Maria Sharapova withdrew from the tournament before her semi final match with eventual runner-up Caroline Garcia, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the fifth seed.
Facing third seed Garcia in the final was never expected to be easy, but Bacsinszky didn’t get the memo. It was Garcia that appeared to be in the better form, judging by the first two games, as she held easily and had numerous break point opportunities in the second game. The French Woman would rue her missed chances however, as her opponent would soon find her game. At 1-1, Bacsinszky would earn the first break of the match, and that would only set the tone of what was to come. After Garcia held at 2-4, Bacsinszky didn’t lose another game in the match. A quick hold was followed by a break to wrap up the first set 6-3. The dominance continued in the second set with The Swiss in fine form as Garcia faded. The world number 30 failed to win a single game in the second set, which was wrapped up by The Swiss in less than 30 minutes.
Once one of the rising stars on tour, Bacsinszky found herself winning her first title in Luxembourg 6 years a go. Unfortunately, her career was then plagued by injuries that saw her fall outside the top 500 in 2012. Her climb back up the rankings started last year where she rose from 237 to 48 in the world. And now her comeback as hit its highest point, with her second career title in Acapulco.
“Maybe I’m like a good wine – with time, I’m better!” Bacsinszky joked to the press afterwards.
“But seriously, I almost stopped playing in 2013. When I decided to play again, at the French Open in 2013, I got a new team around me – new coach, new fitness coach, I’ve been working a lot with Swiss tennis. The road was long, and it’ll still be long, but I’ve been working hard. I wasn’t just expecting the results to come right away, I was patient. I knew I needed time to build everything up.”
She added. “I’m really proud. And knowing what I’ve been through, I’m even prouder.”
Despite the crushing final loss, Caroline Garcia had a good week as she still bids for her second WTA crown. The 21 year old will be around for a while yet, so if you are not yet familiar with her talents, you will be soon enough. With her final appearance in Acapulco, Garcia has strengthened her bid to claim a seeding position at the French Open.
The doubles title went to second-seeded Spaniards Lara Arruabarrena and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, as they beat number one seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-6(2), 5-7, 13-11.