DOHA, February 14, 2016
For World No. 10 Lucie Safarova, a return to Doha for the 2016 Qatar Total Open is something she has been eagerly awaiting for a long time. After all, this is where the journey to the top 10 in the WTA rankings and a very successful 2015 season, where she had her highest ranking as well as being a Grand Slam finalist, began.
The defending champion in Doha is the first to arrive in the country ahead of the February 21-27 tournament having arrived last Sunday.
Since her arrival, the 29-year-old, 5 ft 10in-tall Czech has been enjoying the serene atmosphere in the Qatari capital as well as pressing ahead with her training at the impressive Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
Having missed the season opening Grand Slam, the Australian Open and other earlier tournaments due to injury, the 2015 French Open finalist is hoping to kick start her season with a repeat performance of last year where she defeated Victoria Azarenka in straight sets for the Qatar Total Open title – her very first Premier-level title.
Despite being unseeded at last year’s tournament, Safarova trounced three seeds, No.5 seed Ekaterina Makarova, No.6 seed Andrea Petkovic and No.9 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, en route to the final. And although she out-ranked Azarenka, the comparison was misleading – Azarenka is a former World No.1 and had won all six of their previous meetings.
“I have great memories here from last year and it’s great to be back in Doha. I’ve been injured and sick for a long time. I missed the Australian Open and a couple of other tournaments. My first tournament this year is actually the Qatar Total Open so I’ve decided to come and train here in preparation for the tournament and get back in shape,” the excited left-handed player told qatartennis.org recently.
“I am looking forward to a repeat of last year’s success. The whole thing kicked off here and I am excited to come back to where it all began and hopefully I believe it will be a start of greater things to come,” she added.
Speaking about the organization and the tournament in general, Safarova said, “The Qatar Total Open is a very nice and well organized event. I’ve been coming here for a few years now and my first victory on the WTA tour was actually here in Doha. It was my first time to beat Azarenka and it was such a big experience. To hold the trophy above my head that night is a memory I will keep for a long time. I am looking forward to start great again this year.”
“Every year there have been improvements and it is obvious that tennis is growing in Qatar and the facilities are really great. I say a big thank you to the Qatar Tennis Federation for allowing me to train here.”
Asked about the strong field which includes No. 1 Serena Williams of the USA, the Monaco-resident said, “It’s always a strong field here in Doha. Tennis is a very strong competition now and each of the matches will be tough. The presence of Serena Williams will definitely add extra spice to the competition. I’ll take the matches one at a time and see how far as I can go.”
Safarova, however, wants fans to troop out as usual in their large numbers to cheer and show their supports to the players during the seven-day competition organized by the Qatar Tennis Federation and Total Qatar.
Tickets can be bought online.