Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki - UBITENNIS
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Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki

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Lucie Safarova beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 at the Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory to secure her spot in the quarter final, where she will face Caroline Wozniacki.

Cibulkova led 5-2 in her previous seven head-to-head matches against Safarova. In the first set both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games to draw level to 4-4. Cibulkova held serve putting pressure on Safarova, who served to stay in the first set at 4-5. Safarova held serve at 30 with her fourth ace. Safarova broke serve in the 11th game for 6-5 earning a chance to serve out for the first set. Cibulkova broke back to force the set to the tie-break. Cibulkova got the first mini-break but dropped her serve with a double fault. Safarova got two mini-breaks to earn two set points at 6-4. The Czech player did not convert the first set point, as she made her third double fault but sealed the set on her second opportunity after 54 minutes.

Cibulkova did not convert three break points in the first game of the second set. Safarova went up a set and a break to race out to a 3-0 lead after winning 11 of her next 13 points. She earned a double break to race out a 4-0 lead after a nine-deuce fourth game which featured 22 points. Cibulkova got one break back to trail 1-4 but Safarova closed out on her second match point with a forehand winner after 1 hour and 49 minutes to qualify for her first quarter final of a Premier Mandatory since Madrid 2015. Safarova has scored her first win against a top 10 player since beating Angelique Kerber at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore.

“It was a great match and I am really excited to be for the first time here in the quarter final. I knew I had to come out really strong and play fast and not let Dominika play her game. She puts a lot of balls back and she is a very big fighter so I had to be really sharp and strong, which I was. I am really happy it worked out. Winning today means a lot. It feels great to be here again with the best players, being able to beat them means my level is there again”, said Safarova.

Safarova will face Wozniacki, who advanced to the quarter final as Muguruza retired from the match after losing the tie-break of the first set.

Karolina Pliskova beat Barbora Strykova 6-1 6-4 in an all-Czech third round match to reach the quarter final at this tournament for the second time in her career. The two Fed Cup teammates met just twice in their careers. Pliskova won their first head-to-head match in Dubai 2015, while Strykova won their most recent match in Birmingham in 2016.

Pliskova got an early break in the fourth game with a forehand return winner. This year’s Brisbane and Doha champion won 11 straight points and went up a double break in the sixth game with another forehand to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out for the first set to love at 6-1 after 23 minutes. Pliskova dropped just one point in four service games in the opening set, as she made a double fault

The second set started with a trade of breaks. Pliskova saved two game points on Strykova’s serve to break serve in the first game at deuce with a down the line forehand winner. Strykova broke straight back to 30 in the second game as Pliskova made a backhand error. Strykova held serve to take the lead for the first time in the match. Pliskova broke twice in the fifth game to love and again in the seventh game at deuce. As Pliskova was serving for the match at 5-2, Strykova got one break back with a forehand winner. Strykova held serve to love in the ninth game to claw her back into the second set to 4-5. Strykova took a 15-40 lead in the 10th game, as Pliskova was serving for the match. Pliskova saved three break points to close out the final game at deuce on her second opportunity.

Pliskova has reached her fifth quarter final of the season. She has not made it to the quarter final only in one tournament at Dubai where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic one week after her second title of the second in Doha.

Pliskova has clinched her 22nd win to just three losses of the season (she has the best record on the WTA tour this season). The Czech player will face either Mirjana Lucic Baroni or Bethanie Mattek Sands. Lucic Baroni beat Pliskova in three sets in the quarter finals of this year’s Australian Open. Pliskova leads 2-1 against Mattek Sands, altheough they have not clashed since 2014.

“It’s never easy to play against a player I know very well. Everything was fine, going well until 6-1 5-2. I didn’t serve well. I didn’t put any first serves in. She played some good games on her side. I was happy to close it because the end was tricky. She started to slice more. I was a little bit, not really shaking, but the end was a little bit shaky, so I was just happy to get through. Up to that point it was a really high level from my side. I was dictating and she didn’t have much time to play her game, to go to the net and play those slices because I was playing fast from the baseline. Until 6-1 5-2 I am really happy with how I played”, said Pliskova.

Caroline Wozniacki held a one-set lead after winning the first set at the tie-break, when Murguruza was forced to withdraw due to illness. Wozniacki set up a quarter final against Lucie Safarova. The Danish player has won four of her seven head-to-head matches against Safarova, but the Czech player prevailed in their most recent head-to-head match on hard-court in Sydney in 2014.

Muguruza led 3-1 in her head-to-head matches against Wozniacki, but they have not met met since Wimbledon 2015 when Muguruza prevailed 6-4 6-4.

After an early trade of breaks, Wozniacki held serve to love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the fourth game Muguruza looked to be cruising to a hold of serve, when she took a 40-0 lead. Wozniacki earned two break points, as Muguruza made two double faults and got the break with a forehand return winner to take a 3-1 with a forehand before holding her serve to 15.

Muguruza bounced back by breaking serve on her fourth break point after a hard-fought 11-minute seventh game.

Muguruza served for the set at 5-4 but Wozniacki broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Muguruza saved a set point, when Wozniacki sent her backhand into the net. Muguruza hit her forehand down the line to force the set to the tie-break. Wozniacki earned the mini-break, as Wozniacki hit her fifth double fault. Wozniacki hit her second ace to race out to a 4-0 lead before earning five set points, as Muguruza made a double fault. Wozniacki closed out on her first set point, as Muguruza made an error. Muguruza called it a day after 75 minutes. This was the third time that Muguruza retired from a match this season.

 

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Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pioneer Of The Golden Generation In Poland

Agnieszka Radwanska’s legacy is more than what it seems as she announced her retirement from Tennis.

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Agnieszka Radwanska (zimbio.com)

13 years ago, Agnieszka Radwanska started her career and evolved into a pioneer of a golden generation in Polish Tennis and now she exits the game having left a memorable legacy. 

Today is quite a sad day for many Polish tennis fans including myself who have watched Agnieszka Radwanska’s brilliant career evolve over the last 13 years. A talented player with many trick shots, a tonne of personality and some incredible achievements.

The Krakow-born star reached a grand slam final in 2012, where she forced the greatest player of all time to three sets at Wimbledon, a place that Serena Williams has made her second home. The 29 year old also won 20 WTA titles including a landmark title in Beijing as well as winning the biggest title of her career in Singapore at the WTA Finals in 2015.

A career high of world number two in 2012 consolidated what most fans knew, which was that she was a unique once in a lifetime player that fulfilled her potential. Even though injuries prevented her reaching further in the women’s game there was no doubting her achievements on the court.

The Polish Generation. 

Despite all these achievements, nothing will top what Radwanska has done in becoming a pioneer for Polish tennis and the success that may follow in the years to come.

The obvious example to her legacy is what Jerzy Janowicz was able to achieve at Wimbledon in 2013. The tall Pole was able to reach the semi-finals at SW19 in a historic event that saw Poland’s first men’s singles success since Wojciech Fibak. Although even he couldn’t reach a grand slam singles semi-final.

In the quarter-finals that year he competed in an all-Polish last eight match with Lukasz Kubot in a match that will never be forgotten.

Now the Radwanska link is that her success coinciding with Janowicz’s was a remarkable feat for Polish tennis that had the whole country invested in the sport.

Poland is a small nation in the tennis world and to see two singles successes in grand slams was pretty remarkable and set a standard in what was to come.

Although Radwanska couldn’t achieve grand slam success, a Polish grand slam winner would eventually evolve in Lukasz Kubot. The 36 year old has won two grand slams with two different partners and became the first Polish grand slam champion since Fibak. Not bad for a country of 35 million people.

There are also solid successes of Marcin Matkowski, Magda Linette, Alicja Rosolska as well as Michal Przysiezny, who is a former top 50 player and a big influence in Caroline Wozniacki’s recent Australian Open success.

Hopman Cup Success

Another achievement in Radwanska’s successful career was the Hopman Cup triumph in Perth with Jerzy Janowicz in what was a fun week.

Surprisingly it was Radwanska who took charge in that relationship and won a very emotional title in Perth, a week which signified how lucky Polish tennis was with this ongoing golden generation.

A title which will arguably be in the hearts of many Polish fans and is much more significant than people may assume.

The Legacy Continued: Fed Cup and Davis Cup. 

Although Radwanska had lead a golden generation in Polish tennis, there were still doubts whether this could be replicated in Fed Cup and Davis Cup.

Well those doubts were silenced when the Fed Cup team reached the World Group for the first time in their history. A magnificent achievement and a historic won even if they were eliminated by a Maria Sharapova-led Russia.

The Davis Cup team somehow equalled Radwanska’s Fed Cup team as they reached the World Group for the first time in their history. Caroline Wozniacki’s hitting partner, Michal Przysiezny sealed the winning rubber against Slovakia which had clearly shown how deep the talent was amongst the Polish players.

Away From The Legacy: The Turmoil Balanced With Personal Joy

Despite the legacy she had lead, the struggle was real on the tour for Radwanska as she started to develop injuries which prevented further progress.

This mental and physical turmoil unfortunately prevented her success in winning a grand slam and will probably go down as one of the best players never to win a grand slam.

After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2012 she only managed to reach a grand slam quarter-final seven times. Although the Pole was still capable of stunning upsets such as the one she pulled on Simona Halep in Miami this year.

This was of course managed by personal joy after getting married last year to Poland’s current Fed Cup captain, David Celt.

A tribute to a wonderful career

To put Aga’s career in perspective and how loved she was in her long and successful career, here is a tribute to her career by Radwanska herself.

Here is also reaction from other players just to show how loved Radwanska really is:

https://twitter.com/DonnaVekic/status/1062737073256456192

https://twitter.com/juliagoerges/status/1062758622453788672

The Future: Hotel Ventures and Polish Talent. 

Its not all bad news for Radwanska fans as she is continuing her legacy through her own hotel in Krakow, where she was born. For each room in the hotel she has a memory from each of her big trophy wins including Singapore and Beijing.

As for the legacy that Radwanska started it will continue into another generation of Polish tennis as Hubert Hurkacz and Kamil Majchrzak lead Male hopes in Poland. In-fact Hurkacz is now in the top 100 in the world and recently competed at the Next Gen Finals, a season that he will remember for a long time. 

The women also have a bright future with Iga Swiatek winning the Wimbledon juniors title this year as she keeps tearing it up on the futures tour. While Maja Chwalinska is slowly looking to join Swiatek as the future of Polish tennis.

Do Widzenia Radwanska

So in summary, the pioneer of a golden generation of Polish tennis players has retired, in what will be an emotional day for Polish tennis fans. Her legacy will be felt for a long time to come as Polish tennis continues to evolve. With the loss of Radwanska and potentially Janowicz it feels like the early stage of Polish tennis has finished in its chapter.

Congratulations on an amazing career to Aga as she now looks to live a healthy life outside of a tennis court. A nation will always be grateful for Aga’s long-lasting legacy and achievements on the court.

So as emotional as it sound, thank you for all that you have given Polish tennis Agnieszka Radwanska and as we say in Poland: Powodzenia an Do Widzenia (Good Luck and Goodbye).

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Lucie Safarova Announces Retirement At Australian Open Due To Health Problems

Former doubles world number one, Lucie Safarova has announced that the Australian Open will be her last tournament of her career.

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Lucie Safarova (zimbio.com)

Former doubles world number one Lucie Safarova has announced that she will retire at the Australian Open next year. 

The 31 year old made her announcement in a pre-Fed Cup press conference, where she explained that she’s been suffering from health problems for a while.

The former world number five in singles stated that she can no longer continue and admitted it was a hard decision to make, “I decided to end my career in Melbourne,” Safarova told sport.idnes.cz.

“Health complication were a big part in my decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time with Rob (Steckley, her coach) we talked that this would be the last season. I’ve had a great career but it’s not a healthier job.”

In her career Safarova reached a Roland Garros final in 2015 in singles, where she lost to Serena. The Czech Republican also had fantastic doubles success with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winning three of the four grand slams.

“I don’t want to end by playing qualifying tournaments. I’m not playing any tournaments ahead of Melbourne,” Safarova concluded.

The former doubles world number one will now end her career by playing singles and doubles at the Australian Open as she can look back on her career with fond memories and great success.

 

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Darren Cahill Announces Shock Split From Simona Halep Due To Family Reasons

Darren Cahill has announced that he will not coach Simona Halep next season after wanting to spend more time with family.

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Darren Cahill and Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

Darren Cahill has announced his shock split from world number one Simona Halep due to family reasons. 

The Australian has been with Halep for four years in which he has turned her into a dominant world number one. As well as that he coached her to a first grand slam victory in Paris in May and it looked they would extend their partnership.

However just days after releasing a video dedicated to Simona Halep, the Australian has announced that he will no longer be coaching the Romanian as he plans to spend more time with family.

In a statement he Cahill said the following:

“I would like to announce that Simona and I will not be continuing our partnership in 2019 purely for family reasons on my part. After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming.
“I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years. Her understanding, personality, work ethic, generosity and professionalism made it a pleasure to stand by her side as her coach. She’s a young woman of total class and someone I respect greatly which is something more important than any result achieved. Basically, I had the dream job and I want to thank her for making it that way, and the opportunity to work with someone so talented and dedicated. I wish Simo and her team nothing but continued success and I look forward to supporting her from the sidelines next year.”

The announcement means that their four year partnership ends despite a career-best season from the Romanian having been world number one for most of the year. The Australian confirmed he will still fulfil his TV commitments with ESPN.

“And finally, to the Romanian fans that show unwavering passion and support for their girl. You guys rock, seriously. Thanks for adopting this Aussie as one of your own for the last 4 years and making me feel welcome in your country. I will continue to work with the ESPN team at the AO, Wimbledon & US Open tournaments in 2019.”

The Romanian has since responded thanked the Australian for what has been an incredibly four year partnership.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1060977900013477893

Halep’s next steps remain unclear but it is clear that she will miss Cahill in her corner next season as he been the driving force behind her success. Although who knows if the Australian will return to her corner in 2020. 

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