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Safarova can't hide delight at making a splash at Wimbledon

Lucie Safarova prepares to hit a forehand
by Matt Trollope
Friday 4 July 2014

When Czech Petra Kvitova played a final backhand winner past her to win their Wimbledon ladies’ singles semi-final, Lucie Safarova greeted her compatriot at net with a beaming smile and a hug. She looked just as happy for Kvitova to progress to the final as Kvitova was herself.

So how was she really feeling? “It was a good run for me. I mean, it's the best result of my career,” Safarova said.

“She's my friend, so once the match was done I just wished her all the best. I hope she's going to win it.”

Safarova sounded somewhat at peace with the outcome of her Wimbledon fortnight. She admitted that she was disappointed to have lost, but believed Kvitova was just a level above on Thursday. “There is always next chance,” she said with a smile.

Safarova is indeed creating plenty of chances for herself of late. A seasoned professional, at 27 and in her 12th season on tour, she has hovered around the 20s and 30s in the rankings for the best part of the past eight years, performing consistently if not brilliantly at Grand Slam events and lurking as a dangerous floater that no top player would ever wish to face.

Enjoying a renaissance this season, she has put herself well on the way to becoming one of those top players herself. At Roland Garros, she reached the second week at a major for the first time in seven years, upsetting No.11 seed Ana Ivanovic en route to the fourth round. At Wimbledon, she progressed to a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time, enjoying another big victory – this time over top 10 player Dominika Cibulkova – along the way.

Her strong performances in 2014, and especially here at the All England Club, guarantee that she will vault to world No.17, equalling her career-best ranking.

Safarova believes the secret to her recent success boils down to one ingredient: hard work.

“We've been working with my coach on my game in general. I had a good pre-season in Florida. We did a lot of work there. I had a good run at the end of (last) season already in Asia. I kind of kept the level and even improved. I had a good start in Australia. I lost in the beginning of the season quite a few tight matches to top 10 players. I'm happy that finally now I transfer it to big results,” she explained.

Safarova said that while she was looking forward to the rest of the season and hoping to continue her stellar form, rest beckoned. Having played nine events in almost every week of the calendar since mid April, she was excited about the prospect of taking some time away from tennis at home to recharge and recover.

And before she gears up to tackle the hard courts of North America, there will no doubt be pause for reflection on what was a magnificent campaign at Wimbledon.

“First of all, I was healthy. I was feeling good on the court, like feeling the ball, playing really well, aggressive, going for my shots, serving well. I think I build up my game and was improving throughout the tournament. Today was a good match and really nice experience to play the first time on the Centre Court,” she said.

“I hope it's not the last time.”

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