Monthly Archives: November 2012

Czechs defend Fed Cup with Safarova victory

Safarova takes Championship point

Czech Republic successfully defended their Fed Cup crown on Sunday after Lucie Safarova overpowered Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-1 in Prague to secure the trophy.

The victory not only propels Czech tennis to new realms of dominance on the WTA circuit, but could spark the arrival of Safarova to the top-10 next year, so dominant have her performances been this weekend.

Heading into the match 2-1 up after Serbia clawed a point back earlier in the day, Czech’s Safarova looked unfazed under the immense spotlight of her home crowd and calmly carved apart her opponent in merciless style.

Jankovic behind the baseline

Despite Ana Ivanovic’s straight-set victory over Petra Kvitova only half an hour before, Safarova powered her way to a break in the first game and some resolute serving made it 2-0 early on.

The calibre of tennis on show was extolled early on, with the third game running into 11 minutes before Safarova broke for a second time for 3-0. Another long fourth game saw more deuces before Safarova again powered her way through the resolute Jankovic for 4-0.

It could have got even worse for the Serb when her opponent swept forward to plant a net volley into space and set up a break point in the fifth, but Jankovic held her serve to defiantly taker her first game of the match.

Safarova was in control throughout

Safarova’s serves were just too good however and a win in the sixth set up a 5-1 lead. The 25-year-old’s powerful forehand earned her break point and seconds later she was back in her chair – the first set done and dusted.

While Safarova rested with drinks bottle in hand, her opponent went through a vigorous back massage across the other side of the umpire’s chair. Jankovic had certainly not appeared to be suffering discomfiture in that first set but the trainer’s aid was evidently needed to loosen up some knots from Saturday’s tie.

A flat, darting forehand gave Safarova the first game of the second set, before the Serb held her own serve to draw level. A love service game finished with an ace rocketed Safarova back into the lead and after a tiring fourth game Safarova took her second break point thanks to a long Jankovic forehand.

Championship point won!

At 1-4 Jankovic, who has not beaten a top-20 player since February, was clearly hurting and when her opponent nailed a forehand right in the corner of her baseline it was clear there was only going to be one winner. Safarova lifted the crowd to its feet with an impervious love break, before serving for the match.

The Czech aced her second point, sent a fierce backhand down the right for three championship points, and finished it all off with another beautifully controlled backhand down the line before collapsing to her knees in relief.

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Inspired Ivanovic keeps Serbia in Fed Cup

Ivanovic wins 6-3 7-5

Ana Ivanovic looked back to her best on Sunday as she pulled off a staggering straight-set victory over Petra Kvitova to keep Serbia in the hunt for Fed Cup glory.

Ivanovic faced one of the toughest players on the circuit in Prague, but proved inspired to overcome her Czech opponent 6-3 7-5 after surviving a late scare.

It took a final push and three match points to claim the win for Serbia, with the Fed Cup scores now 2-1 to the hosts on the Sunday showdown.

Kvitova between games

Ivanovic looked a transformation of the player that lost in straight sets to Lucie Safarova on Saturday. The Serb played immaculately in the first set, holding her returns and almost rushing through her own service games. She cantered to a first-set victory and continued her firm focus into the second.

2-1 up in the second Ivanovic had three break points and, after two long efforts, secured the game when Kvitova hit into the net with a low forearm.

The Czech looked exhausted by that point and almost resigned to losing the match, but proved her mettle in the return game forcing a break on Ivanovic’s serve. However, the power and confidence of the Serb was too much and Ivanovic went into the change of ends 4-1 up.

A superb love service game handed Ivanovic a 5-2 lead as the Serb imposed herself upon Kvitova, spreading her opponent across the baseline before slamming home. Yet Kvitova would not budge and a long forearm from Ivanovic earned the Czech slight respite and pressure on her opponent to serve out.

Maybe Ivanovic was feeling that pressure, for Kvitova found power from somewhere to keep her opponent behind the baseline and earn two early points. A wild Ivanovic effort opened up three break points and moments later the match was back in the balance 5-4!

A huge Kvitova service game brought the scores level only for Ivanovic to turn back with another love service game, almost silencing the Prague crowd.

Indeed, Ivanovic’s brief scare appeared to have evaporated as she stormed to three match points on Kvitova’s serve. After losing the first, she hit a forehand millimetres out of Kvitova’s left-hand sideline, a decision that went down to Hawkeye as Ivanovic looked hopefully on.

Ivanovic millimetres from victory

The disappointment would not deter Ivanovic however, as she powered through a forehand to finally take victory and leave the Fed Cup scores 2-1 in Czech’s favour.

Serbia needed this match to stay in the Cup

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Fed Cup Day One Round-up

Safarova earned a valuable point for Czech Republic on Saturday
Photo: Robbie Mendelson

The 2012 Fed Cup final got off to an explosive start in Prague on Saturday, with hosts Czech Republic storming to a 2-0 lead over Serbia after two singles openers.

Both Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova took straight-sets victories over their opponents to hand their team a commanding lead heading into Sunday, where three more ties are scheduled to be played in the best-of-five final.

Safarova started the day off with a 41-minute dismantling of former world number one Anna Ivanovic. The Czech ran out a 6-4 6-3 victor, while Kvitova – playing Jelena Jankovic – took the second match 6-4 6-1.

The 2011 Wimbledon champion, Kvitova, has been suffering from illness over the last month and pulled out of the WTA Championships last week in order to gain more rest time before the Fed Cup final.

“I did not know what to expect at the beginning,” Kvitova said after her match. “I had a little trouble breathing, towards the end my legs were weakening and I had a headache, so I wished for the game to be over.”

The Czech faces Ivanovic in the first match of Day Two knowing victory will hand her country the title.

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Fed Cup clashes announced

The five ties that will produce the winner of the 2012 Fed Cup have been revealed in Prague as Czech Republic and Serbia gear up to do battle over the weekend. Among the ties will be the mouth-watering clash between world number eight Petra Kvitova and Anna Ivanovic – ranked 12th.

Kvitova pulled out of the 2012 WTA Tour Championship last week through illness, having battled with stomach bugs over the past fortnight or so. The Czech withdrew in order to get much-needed rest before the Fed Cup final and will be key to her nation’s efforts of defending the title.

Ivanovic, meanwhile, has enjoyed a decent season so far, climbing 10 places up the rankings to her current position. The former world number one and 2008 French Open champion will also face Lucie Safarova in Round 1 of the Fed Cup final.

In the doubles, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka will represent Czech against the Serbian pair of Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic.

The ties are scheduled to be played over 3-4 November, with a best-of-five tournament attracting a lot of attention in Czech Republic. The defending champions and second seeds in the World Cup finals stage will be strong favourites against a Serbia side that has never before reached the final.

More details can be found here

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Tournament of Champions semis revealed

Roberta Vinci has made it to the semis
Photo:Arcimboldo (Eckhard Pecher)

 

The semi-finals of the WTA Tournament of Champions has been confirmed after the round-robin stage was completed in Sofia this week.

First seed Caroline Wozniacki and Italian Roberta Vinci join Nadia Petrova and Tsvetana Pironkova in the final four after both took victories on Sunday. The latter pair, already qualified for the semis, play each other on Friday to decide seedings heading into the knock-out stage.

Wozniacki was made to work for her win over Daniela Hantuchova and was in a whisker of losing the match as Hantuchova forced a match point having won the first set 6-3. Yet the Dane defended brilliantly to save the match at 6-5 down in the second set and went on to take the third to finish top of Group Serdika.

Close behind Wozniacki on Thursday was Vinci, who took down Hsieh Su-Wei 6-1 6-2 in just 53 minutes. The Italian was impervious in her serve and benefitted from Hsieh’s wayward shots at times.

“In the second set she played better,” Vinci told reporters. “But I was playing well and focused and I’m happy about my performance and reaching the semi-finals here in Sofia.”

With Wozniacki finishing top of Group Serdika, Petrova and Pironkova will battle it out in Sofia on Friday to earn the right to face Vinci in the semis. The loser will face the former world number one and in-form Wozniacki, although either opponent is a formidable match at the stage of the tournament.

Click here for a full run-down of the Tournament of Champions standings and results…

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