Lucie Safarova and Samantha Stosur both had a great week to reach the final in Prague. The Czech player entered the tournament winless due to her stomach virus which forced her to miss the first part of the year, while Samantha Stosur started her Prague campaign with already a few matches won this year. Nevertheless, the Czech player was still the favorite on paper as she had won 10 of 13 previous matches against the Aussie.
Stosur takes the better start and holds her serve until the end of the opening set
In the first game, both players showed what they were capable of. Safarova hit her first winner and Stosur hit her first two aces to eventually win the first game of the match. In the second game, Stosur hit a tremendous return to get the two first break points of the match, she took one of them and went on to consolidate her break to take a 3-0 lead. Safarova really got into the final with her first hold of serve in the fourth game. Both players served well and played very aggressively in the second part of the set. The Czech had her first and only break point oppurtunity of the set in the seventh game when she was 4-2 down. She wasted it with a backhand unforced error. Stosur went on to hold her serve once again but was forced to serve the set out as her opponent hit her second ace of the match to hold for 5-3. In the last game of the set, the Aussie made no mistake and held to love to snatch the first set of the final six games to three.
Safarova fights back, plays impressive tennis and levels up the match to one set all
After conceding her opening service game, Safarova played a very neat tennis and always held comfortably in the second part of the first set. She started off the second set with a new easy hold and took the lead for the first time of the match. In the next game, Stosur served four double faults to give away a break for the first time in this encounter. Safarova was strongly supported by her home crowd and gained much-needed confidence in the start of this set. She won 17 straight points and swamped her opponent with a lot of winners from the backhand as well as from the forehand side. The Aussie couldn't find any solution and conceded a new break, allowing Safarova to take a 5-0 lead. Stosur avoided the bagel but still lost the set 6-1 against an on-song Safarova.
After a compelling set, Safarova takes one lethal break in the end and goes on to win the title on home soil
After an impressive second set, Safarova didn't falter but Stosur found a second wind to cause trouble to her opponent again. Both players served really well in the decider, and were never worried on their serve as they both held their three first service games. In the crucial seventh game, Safarova displayed some of her best skills, forcing Stosur to play long rallies and making her run from right to left to eventually get 3 break points. She only needed one and broke Stosur at a very important stage to the delight of the crowd. She then held her serve easily once again, making net approaches and forcing Stosur to make an early error. Back to the wall, Stosur managed to keep her hopes alive and put Safarova in a stressful position, forcing her to serve out the match at 5-4. Cheered by a rapturous crowd, Safarova won the two first points of the game but Stosur fought back, saved a first match point and add drama in this last game. In the end, Lucie Safarova didn't lose her focus and fired her 13th and 14th ace to eventually win the match and the title 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Safarova wins her first title of the year and her 7th of her career
This week was a fairy tale for the Czech. After suffering from a virus which pulled her out from the competition for 3 months in 2015 and then for 2 months again in 2016, Lucie Safarova never gave up and always came back stronger. After losing her five first matches of the year to Cagla Buyukakcay, Yaroslava Shvedova, Yanina Wickmayer, Louisa Chirico and Karolina Pliskova, she entered Prague winless but proved to everybody that she was a fighter. She won her first match in over 5 months against Mariana Duque-Mariño on Tuesday and went on to beat Lucie Hradecka, Su-Wei Hsieh, Pliskova and Samantha Stosur today to win the J&T Banka Prague Open. After a very rough period, it is fair and relevant to say that the Czech is back and that she will have to be counted among the outsiders for the French Open later this year.