Maria Sharapova Wins Thriller over Lucie Safarova to Advance at Sony Open

Sharapova fh

(March 22, 2014) Maria Sharapova was pushed hard by Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-2 in a three hour contest to move into the round of 16 at the Sony Open. The No. 4 seed won the match on her ninth match point over a pesky opponent, 56 minutes after her first match point, which came in the second set tiebreaker.

Safarova saved 6 match points against Sharapova in the final game of the match with a series of winners.

“There are so many emotions and there are so many ups and downs,” Sharapova said. “You finish off the first set and then I was down a couple of breaks in the second.  Then I brought it back up, and then I had my chances to win that match.  And then it went to a third.

“So of course you’re going through a lot, that I was really happy that I was able to come back after losing the second set and not letting that affect me, although it’s always challenging to know that you had the match so close.”

At the end of the match, instead of the traditional handshake, the women exchanged hugs.

“She was coming up with some really good shots,” said the winner.  “There was not really much that I could do.

“She’s going for her shots and she was hitting winners on the run.  I tried to stay focused, and I think I did a good job of that.  It would have been very easy to let that game go.

“I’m happy to be sitting here winning the match,” the Russian said in press.  “Obviously it was tough to lose that second set after having a couple of match points, but I was really happy with the way I came out.”

Both Sharapova and top seed Serena Williams’ matches were three-set thrillers. Williams stopped Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Serena Williams Pushes Past Caroline Garcia into Miami Round of 16

In the past, early round matches for the women were considered by some as “warm ups” for the rest of the tournament. Sharapova said that nowadays that’s not the case and that women’s tennis is much more competitive.

“I’d say five years ago I’d say you’d consider the first couple of rounds as a warmup to the tournament,” said the fourth seed.  “You don’t see that now.  You don’t see players that are seeded playing the first round, but they have had great wins.

“Someone like (Caroline) Garcia, she’s played three sets against me.  She’s an up and comer and playing really well.

“So we all know that everyone can play, and that’s really why there is a draw and the net goes up in the morning, is because you have to play those matches.

“But it is exciting for women’s tennis.”

In other women’s action on the day:

No. 9 seed Sara Errani fell to Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Kirsten Fipkens advanced into the next round when No. 14 seed Sabine Lisicki withdrew from the tournament due to the flu.

Other seeds advancing on the day were No. 5 Angelique Kerber who beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-2, No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic who topped Indian Wells winner No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3, No. 8 Petra Kvitova who beat teen qualifier Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4.


Sloane Stephens Crashes Out in Opening Round of Dubai


(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – World No. 18 Sloane Stephens is now winless (0-2) in non-major events this year following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Last year Stephens also lost in the opening round of Dubai and last week, the American also fell in her first match in Doha last week.

Stephens told media that she needs to improve her results at Premier-Level events.

“I think it’s just something I need to work on, Stephens said. “I obviously need next year to try to do better here, and that’s what I need to do.”

She is 3-1 in majors this year and 0-2 in other events. Last year she was 15-4 in Majors and 24-19 on the WTA tour and Fed Cup. Stephens recently hired former Roger Federer and Pete Sampras coach Paul Annacone as her own.

“It was a tough match. She’s a great player and she played really well,” Stephens said. “I didn’t really get a good rhythm today, and she was playing some really good tennis at the end of the match.”

“Last year was a really long year,” she said. “It was tough towards the end, but I came through like a champ, and I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think being obviously American, it’s a much bigger deal because sports is really big in the US, and either way I think the whole thing was a learning experience and it was what it was.”

Also into the second round is recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, who overcame a challenge from Alisa Kleybanova to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. She’ll face No. 1 Serena Williams next.

Also in the day session in the final round of the qualifying matches, Australian Open semi-finalist and world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Annika Beck.

Others to advance to the main draw were 2013 US Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta, who beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Camila Giorgi 7-5, 6-2, and Maryna Zanevska rebounded from losing the first five games to defeat Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4.


Kvitova Earns 300th win on WTA Tour

Petra Kvitova

By Dave Gertler

(January 8, 2014) SYDNEY – Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has reached a landmark 300th career WTA match wins, with a victory over Lucie Safarova at the Apia International, Sydney.

The all-Czech, all-lefthander quarterfinal was the first match on Ken Rosewall Arena on Wednesday, Kvitova surviving as the top remaining seed after Agnieszka Radwanska lost yesterday to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Safarova matched her compatriot in the first set, pushing Kvitova to a tiebreak, but unable to do enough in the breaker and the following set, the world No.6 prevailed 7-6, 6-2 in one hour, 40 minutes.

“My serve was great today,” said Kvitova. “It helped me a lot.  I had a few break points, but she just served well.  She’s lefty so it’s tricky, too.  It’s tough to play her for sure.  It was only my second time in our career, so it wasn’t that much.”

In a women’s draw that has been characterised by the early exits of top seeds, Kvitova said, “I was trying to focus on my game, on my match, and not about the other seeds. They lost already. It’s still tough tournament and tough next round and that’s it.”

In her next round Kvitova will play the winner between world No.7 Sara Errani and Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .


Lucie Safarova Claims Quebec City Title

Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova

(September 15, 2013) Lucie Safarova won her fifth WTA title on Sunday by defeating sixth seed Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-3 for the Bell Challenge tournament in Quebec City.

This is the Czech’s first tournament win since 2008 when she won at Forest Hills.

“It was just about a few points today, but I was more consistent with my game and more aggressive, and I think that’s why I won,” said the southpaw Safarova. “My strategy was to try to go to her backhand side and just try to use my lefty shots as well as I could. I was a little bit nervous at the end because it was so long since my last WTA title – I really wanted to win the title today – so it’s great I was able to do that.”

“I really tried hard to get things right, but Lucie made it very difficult for me today,” said Erakovic, who also was a finalist in 2011. “She played solid and didn’t let up her lead at all. And I was struggling to find my rhythm with her lefty serve and in the rallies – so I just have to take my hat off to her and move on now.”


Thursday’s Roundup at Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2013) EASTBOURNE, England – The playing conditions on Thursday started in the murk of a mist coming in off the sea, a complete contrast to the hot sunny conditions the day before.


No sooner had the first players made their way out and finished knocking up, a persistent bout of rain saw play suspended for over an hour.


When play did resume, it was in a backdrop of mist or, as we learned, a sea-fret [a wet mist or haze coming inland from the sea].


Either way, visibility was poor for the first set or so, causing issues in the early matches.


Feliciano Lopez def. Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(6)

Verdasco had not been happy about the restart even before the match started, complaining to ATP tour supervisor Tom Barnes.


The conditions better suited Lopez, who dialed into his serve well today, taking advantage of the muggier conditions to put his slice to effective use.


Verdasco was less than pleased with the decisions made after the match, claiming: “(If) I was Rafael Nadal, I can say, I don’t play, and I’m pretty sure that the ATP will say, Okay, we wait till the court is good.


“But because I’m not Nadal or Federer or any of these guys, I need to do what the ATP wants, because if I said, I go, the tournament will not say, we wait.


“Then I will get a fine from the ATP because I didn’t want to play in the bad conditions.”


Verdasco went on to describe the close friendship that he shares with Lopez, and how he was able to joke about hating him (not to mention a description that would send the elderly of Eastbourne to an early grave).


Lopez agreed that conditions today had been difficult with the humidity but took Verdasco’s comments at the end in good humor.


Lopez will face Ivan Dodig in the semifinals.


Jamie Hampton def. Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4

Another player who had to contend with the unusual weather was Jamie Hampton who took a couple of tumbles on her way to winning a taut three-setter against Safarova.


The haze over Court 1 was quite considerable when they resumed play, as Hampton explained.


“We were basically playing in a cloud.  There was so much moisture in the air, and the court was slick so I was having a hard time with my footing and my movements.”


Hampton will become the No. 3 American on Monday when the new rankings come out, behind Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.


Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina def. Li Na 7-6(4), 6-3

Another top seed was heading up to SW19 early, as Li Na headed out of Eastbourne, care of Vesnina.


By her own admission, the match had been a little in and out for her: “Sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court.


“Of course I would like to do more matches [and] still looking forward for Wimbledon.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki def. Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3

Caroline Wozniacki made sure a lines-judge felt her wrath after being called on a foot fault in the second set.


First arguing with the umpire, then demonstrating to the judge in question how her heel bone was connected to the anklebone, or at the very least explaining the rules.


Finally the umpire had to intervene and redirect Wozniacki’s focus back to playing the match.


Whatever the issue was, it irked here enough to rip through the second set without dropping a game, leaving Makarova looking stunned at the changeover before losing the deciding the set.


Wozniacki was unrepentant in her press conference about perhaps the lines judge wanting to feel “important”:


“I don’t see a reason other than that why you wanted to call a foot fault on a second serve that isn’t a foot fault.”


Wozniacki is the sole surviving seed, and faces Jamie Hampton in the semi final.


Gilles Simon def. Bernard Tomic 7-6(8), 6-3

The last match of the day saw France’s Gilles Simon advance to the semifinals over Bernard Tomic.


Tomic seemed to have lost heart after losing a tight tie-break, down 1-4 after a brief rain shower but managed to regroup a little.


Rounding out the singles action, Yanina Wickmayer knocked out the sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.


Ros Satar is a British Journalist – an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She’s covering the AEGON International this week as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.


American Jamie Hampton Upsets Safarova at French Open

Jamie Hampton

(May 29, 2013) American Jamie Hampton stunned the 25th seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(5), 3-6, 9-7 on Wednesday in the first round of the French Open.  Hampton rallied after Safarova served for the match at 7-6 in the third set.

For Hampton, it’s her first career French Open match win. Despite 50 unforced errors, she put seven aces past the Czech in the 2 1/2-hour match.

“Lucie is a very tough competitor and she stayed a really even keep throughout the match, I was kinda like this emotionally,” Hampton said.

“She’s a really great shot maker as well and I think everyone saw that, especially at the end.

“I’m just happy to come through with the win and have my first Roland-Garros main draw win.”

Hampton moves into the second round to join nine other U.S. women in advanced that far. Fifteen U.S. women began the tournament in the singles draw.

“I mean a couple of years ago, we weren’t even in the same there wasn’t even a group of us,” Hampton said about the strides American women are making in tennis these days.

“We’ve progressed, and I think the whole group will continue to progress, and we’ve all got really good games.

“We’re just trying to find our way on the clay right now.”

Hampton admits that she is still finding her way on clay.

“It’s tougher,” Hampton said.

“The American style is a little more powerful and a little less patience and it’s tough to translate that from hard to clay.

“It’s definitely doable – I just think it takes a lot of determination, a lot of patience in general.”

Hampton continued: “I think my game has more dimensions than other players so it gives me a few more options even clay is not my best surface, or it’s not my favorite, or you know if it’s annoying me, if I am not hitting one shot great I can go to a plan b.”

The 23 year-old Hampton has moved up in the rankings from 70th in the beginning of the year to No. 54 after making WTA Tour semifinals at Auckland and Brussels.

She severely tested Victoria Azarenka in the third round of this past Australian Open extending the eventual Australian Open Champion to three sets 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.  Hampton injured her back during that match. She says that her injury has been better since Australia.

“The trainers have done a really good job of keeping me in one piece, “Hampton said.

She’ll face qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia for a place in the third round.


Ros Satar and Karen Pestaina contributed to this report.



Sharapova Survives Safarova in Three Hour Battle in Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova with media

By Tumaini Carayol


(April 25, 2013) STUTTGART – Wednesday afternoon, Maria Sharapova could be found in the Porsche Arena, practicing on court two. Pitted against a young male German junior, the French Open champion was in devastating form.


A brief set of points saw the Russian so dominant over her opponent that coach Tomas Hogstedt found himself continually bursting unto sporadic laughter at the sheer brutality of his charge against this nameless child. More relevant still was the manner in which Sharapova moved around the ball during her practice session – skipping around the ball with precise, quick and measured footwork.


Twenty four hours later, the Russian’s game had descended. In place of the silky footwork and assured movement around the court was a sluggish, labored attempt at moving into position and navigating the clay, and the confident and supreme ball striking had been substituted for a copious amount of errors – 46 in total.


Still, she advanced. It may have taken over three hours, but she advanced over Lucie Safarova 6–4, 6–7(3), 6-3.


“I played a really good opponent that’s had tremendous results on a claycourt,” she said later. “I think this is one of her favorite surfaces. And in general she’s not an easy player to play against. I needed to be ready and no matter how I played today, I’m just happy to have got through this match.”


In that would have seemed laughable half a decade ago, her face lit up when discussing her new preference for red clay, a surface she has amassed an impressive 42-6 record on since her return from shoulder surgery and, for various reasons, has unarguably become her best surface by a considerable distance.


“Over the years I’ve really started to enjoy it,” she smiled. “I used to dread practicing the weeks the before. The movement and the preparation – I really enjoy that now. Before it used to be a bit physical and quite difficult (…) but now I’m really quite comfortable on it.”


There may not have appeared to be much love lost between Sharapova and red clay today in the messy heat of battle, but somewhere in Stuttgart is a junior still nursing deep mental wounds from the uncompromising beating he received at the hands of the reigning French Open champion. He’ll agree.


Tumaini Carayol is in Stuttgart covering the Stuttgart tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.


Williams Day at the Family Circle Cup

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

(April 5, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – Ticketholders to Friday’s day session got quite the schedule after rain forced the Family Circle Cup to cancel its Thursday day session due to rain.

Seven singles matches were held on Friday, and rain only slightly held up play between earlier during the first match on Althea Gibson Court.

Billie Jean King Stadium may as well have been renamed Williams stadium for the day as Venus and Serena Williams combined for four straight matches on the main court.

Venus first needed three sets to get past Vavara Lepchenko 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 before Serena took the court against Mallory Burdette. In the pair’s first meeting, Burdette cracked four aces and kept the match competitive throughout but fell 6-4, 6-2 in 77 minutes.

Burdette said she was pleased with how she played against the world #1. “I’m very happy with the way that I played today and how far I’ve come since I turned pro last fall. I love playing against the top players to see how you match up. That was really, really fun, and it’s always a great learning experience.”

Once Serena won, it was Venus’ turn to play again on Billie Jean King stadium. She faced another American in teenager Madison Keys, who had beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-6(4), 6-4 earlier Friday. Keys and Venus have similar games, but Venus’ experience saw her win her second match of the day 6-4, 6-4.

Keys had this to say about Venus following the match: “She’s an amazing returner. Just put a ton of pressure on me on my serve. She can move well and she has a good serve, so it’s hard to get on the offense.”

Venus says she had played more than one match a few times in her career and hoped the crowd enjoyed the Williams show. “I was thinking it’s a quadruple header today,” she said. “Hopefully that was a lot of fun for the fans. I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen again. I hope it doesn’t. But it was a really cool thing for the tournament to do to kind of just reward the crowd for hanging in there through this weather.”

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

The final Williams match of the day was a rematch of the 2012 Family Circle Cup final between Serena and Lucie Safarova. In that match, the Czech managed one game but today’s contest was much tighter as Williams lost her serve twice and had to come back from 2-4 down in the first set. The world #1 said she was motivated by her sister’s victories.

“I figured if she can win two matches, I have no excuse not to win my two matches,” Serena said. “Obviously I play Venus. She’s my toughest opponent I’ve ever played, and I think she’s beaten me the most of any player.”

Serena and Venus have not faced each other since the WTA Championships in Doha in 2009, where they actually played twice, with Serena winning both matches (in round robin and the final). Serena leads their head to head 13-10.

In the bottom half of the draw, Jelena Jankovic won her ninth straight clay match of the season in quickly ousting Genie Bouchard of Canada 6-1, 6-2 for her 500th career victory. She joins both Williams sisters, Tammy Tanasugarn, Nadia Petrova, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta as active players who have more than 500 wins.

“It’s a great achievement to get my 500th win on the WTA Tour, and hopefully I can have many more,” Jankovic said. “It’s nice. I don’t know how many players have done that, and in order to have 500 wins, I think you have to have a pretty long career, be pretty consistent.”

Jankovic will play Stefanie Voegele who upset Caroline Wozniacki.

Serena and Venus are scheduled for a 1pm start on Saturday, followed by Jankovic – Voegele.

Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.


$ 795,707.00
MARCH 30 – APRIL 07, 2013

RESULTS – APRIL 05, 2013
Singles – Quarterfinals

[1] S Williams (USA) d [6] L Safarova (CZE) 64 61
S Voegele (SUI) d [2] [WC] C Wozniacki (DEN) 36 64 63
[5] V Williams (USA) d M Keys (USA) 64 64
[9] J Jankovic (SRB) d [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) 62 61
Third Round
[1] S Williams (USA) d [Q] M Burdette (USA) 64 62
[5] V Williams (USA) d [12] V Lepchenko (USA) 62 46 62
[6] L Safarova (CZE) d [11] S Cirstea (ROU) 63 57 61
M Keys (USA) d [WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) 76(4) 64

Doubles – Quarterfinals

A Barty (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d [2] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) 64 36 10-6
K Mladenovic (FRA) / L Safarova (CZE) d [3] V King (USA) / L Raymond (USA) 76(5) 61
M Moulton-Levy (USA) / S Zhang (CHN) d [4] J Goerges (GER) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) 57 63 10-5

BILLIE JEAN KING start 1:00 pm
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [5] V Williams (USA)
[9] J Jankovic (SRB) vs S Voegele (SUI)
[1] A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Huber (USA) vs M Moulton-Levy (USA) / S Zhang (CHN)
K Mladenovic (FRA) / L Safarova (CZE) vs A Barty (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS)


Tennis Players and Chefs Serve Up a Feast for Charity at Taste of Tennis


Taste of Tennis1

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE, Australia – A service game of a different kind was on the menu for the tennis stars who attended the 4th Annual Melbourne Swisse Taste of Tennis event held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Thursday night.


Players joined with chefs from Melbourne’s top restaurants to serve up gourmet treats to A-list guests in the name of charity.


Many top 20 ATP and WTA players featured among the guests at the event which raised money for Diabetes Australia and the National Institute of Integrative Medicine. Top ten players Janko Tipsarevic and Richard Gasquet graced the red carpet, along with other notable players including Marion Bartoli, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Lucie Safarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ivo Karlovic.


Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt paired with celebrity chef George Colombaris to kick off the evening with a special presentation on stage before chefs and players combined to act as food servers, handing out small gourmet delights throughout the night.


Celebrities and chefs began arriving at the venue from 6.30pm sporting a wide variety of outfits based on the ‘elegantly casual’ dress theme. Many of the men came smartly dressed in jeans, while Marion Bartoli and the Rodionova sisters glammed up the red carpet in sky high heels and sleek dresses.


British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray is known to tweet her love of desserts to her 49,000 plus twitter following, and expressed her delight at the event’s offerings. She said “we’ve had a great time because to be able to go around and try small amounts of lots of different things is great. I think the trick is to pace yourself so that you have enough room left for desserts.”


Murray also spoke of her hope for the British girls at the Australian Open starting on Monday and said she is hopeful for a good run from Heather Watson and Laura Robson who have both recently broken into the top 50 singles rankings for the first time.


Swedish doubles specialist Robert Lindstedt enjoyed the social aspect of the evening and said it’s a welcome break from the day to day. “It’s great. It’s nice for the people to turn out where most of the guests are not players so it’s quite nice.” He said that on tour “we enjoy good food. We always try to find maybe not always the nicest restaurants because they’re a bit expensive but we always try to eat well so food like this is what we look for.”


Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic said he loves eating out at restaurants. “It’s something that I enjoy doing and also traveling around the world I have the chance to try different cuisines. But when I’m at home I like a home cooked meal and I’m really lucky that my wife cooks really well so I enjoy that as well.”


Silent auctions were held throughout the night to raise money for the elected charities. Items up for auction included signed memorabilia of international sporting stars such as Tiger Woods, Sebastian Vettel and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as experiences including dining packages and the opportunity to have a personal chef serve you at your home.


The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup were also a popular attraction on the night, with guests lining up for the chance to hold and have a photo taken with the Australian Open championship trophies.

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her persona @JackattackAU.
All photos by Melinda Samson who runs the site Grand Slam Gal. Follow her on twitter @Grandslamgal.

Czech Republic Defeats Serbia 3-1 for Second Straight Fed Cup Title


Lucie Safarova

(November 4, 2012) Lucie Safarova defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1  in Prague to clinch a second straight Fed Cup title for the Czech Republic on Sunday.

The Czechs came into Sunday with a 2-0 lead over Serbia. Ana Ivanovic kept Serbia’s chances alive with 6-3, 7-5 win over the Czech Republic’s top player Petra Kvitova narrowing the gap to 2-1.

Safarova dominated Jankovic, who was having problems with her back.



Venue: O2 Arena, Prague (hard – indoors)

Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 64 63

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 61

Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 63 75

Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 61 61

Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (CZE) v Bojana Jovanovski/Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) not played