Safarova beats Ivanovic in Fed Cup opener


The Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova beat Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3 in the first Fed Cup final rubber here on Saturday to give the holders a 1-0 lead.
Safarova, the world number 17 and Czech number two, needed an hour and 41 minutes to sink world number 12 Ivanovic on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena. Ivanovic, a former world number one, never found the pace to match her left-handed rival, making 32 unforced errors against Safarova’s 18. Serbian number one Ivanovic was broken twice in both sets, letting Safarova improve her head-to-head winning streak to four victories.
“We both started very nervous, luckily I was the first one who improved and got the first set, which was very important,” Safarova said. “Then I even upgraded my game, I was pushing her, going through her backhand …(and) using the leftie rotation to her backhand, which was very effective,” she added. Despite the score, “it was a very close second set, she had many break points on my serve and I think the key was that I held those break points and kept my focus.” Pushed by a frantic home crowd of more than 13,500 fans, “I had goosebumps throughout the match, the atmosphere was unbelievable,” she added. Ivanovic did not conceal her disappointment.
“At the beginning of the match I wasn’t really letting go on my shots and they were ending quite short,” she said.
“This let her be aggressive and this was I think the key to today’s match. “I’m very disappointed I didn’t manage to get the first point for our team,” added Ivanovic, who slammed her racket against the ground in frustration several times. “I thought I had plenty of opportunities and I just wasn’t executing when it was important.” “It was very frustrating, I felt like I could turn the match around, but I just wasn’t winning the most important points.” In the second rubber on Saturday, Czech number one Petra Kvitova, who is recovering from a cold that forced her to pull out of the WTA Championship last week, will face Serbia’s number two Jelena Jankovic.
Qureshi/Rojer rally to reach Paris Final: Seventh seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer advanced to the BNP Paribas Masters final on Saturday, rallying past Marin Cilic and Marcelo Melo 0-6, 6-4, 11-9 in Paris. Despite winning six fewer points than Cilic and Melo, Qureshi and Rojer prevailed in the Match Tie-break to advance in 82 minutes. They are through to their third final of the season after lifting trophies at the Estoril Open and Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Qureshi is bidding for a successful title defence in Paris, having captured the title last year with Rohan Bopanna. Rojer will contest his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. The two secured their place in the eight-team field at next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with their second-round win. For the title, Qureshi and Rojer will face No. 5 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Bopanna or Paul Hanley and Jonathan Marray.
I’ll be world no 1 again, says Serena Williams: World number three Serena Willams on Saturday vowed to top the WTA rankings again, after finishing a year that saw her make a remarkable comeback from a potentially life-threatening condition. US tennis player Serena Williams reacts during an exhibition match with her sister Venus at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club on November 2, 2012. World number three Serena Willams on Saturday vowed to top the WTA rankings again, after finishing a year that saw her make a remarkable comeback from a potentially life-threatening condition. “I’ve been number one and believe me I’ll be number one again,” Williams told a news conference in Johannesburg during an Africa tour with her sister Venus to promote the sport among young girls. Williams finished 1195 points behind top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on the WTA rankings, and 645 adrift of number two Maria Sharapova of Russia. The rankings drew some criticism as Williams beat Sharapova in the WTA Championship in Istanbul last Sunday, and won two Grand Slams this year as well as Olympic gold in the singles and doubles in London.