Czech mate for Venus Williams

Williams, who last lost in the emirate a decade ago against Italy’s Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 7-6 (6), was broken in her first and last service games of an opening set that Safarova went on to claim 6-4.



By Alex Leach - Senior Reporter

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 1:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:45 PM

Dubai — Defending champion Venus Williams saw her 16-match winning streak at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium snapped by Czech Lucie Safarova as the three-time Dubai victor suffered a straight-sets defeat here on Centre Court. Williams, who last lost in the emirate a decade ago against Italy’s Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 7-6 (6), was broken in her first and last service games of an opening set that Safarova went on to claim 6-4.

Things didn’t subsequently improve for the 34-year-old either, with her Czech opponent breaking twice more in the second set for a 5-1 and Williams had thus reached the point of no return; Safarova sealing a 6-4, 6-2 win to go through to a quarter-final tie against fellow countrywoman Karolina Pliskova.

“She played awesomely,” Williams admitted afterwards. “There were a couple of games there where I couldn’t get my racquet on the ball. What can I say to that? I just needed to hang in there with the rallies and find a way to win. I had a couple of chances where I had openings, but today was one of those days where — if you missed one or two chances — then the match was done. Some days are like that.

“I don’t think I played badly, but I couldn’t afford to make any errors today (Wednesday); the errors that I made were really costly, so credit to her. She played really well. Every time she comes out against me, she’s just relaxed and simply swings. I wish her the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.”

Safarova’s style of play — with her lefty serve and fast and flat groundstrokes — can soften prove problematic for right-handers, especially with someone of Williams’ height and stature. Mixing up her service seemingly did the trick this time, with Williams struggling to find a remedy to the various different trajectories that came her way.

“I play really fast and I have a good game to give her trouble,” Safarova explained. “My lefty serve into her body and then mixing it up with really flat and fast serves seems to give her a little trouble. I put the pressure on right away from the first point. I was just trying my best to get the win. I felt really good on the court; I was firing the ball and serving really well. I’m happy with my performance.” On her forthcoming encounter with Fed Cup team-mate Pliskova, Safarova added: “We just played recently in Antwerp (where Pliskova prevailed 7-6 (5), 6-3).

“It’s never nice to play a friend and team-mate from the Czech Republic, but it is what it is. It’s a match, a new challenge for me and I will try to win.”


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