Czech No. 2 Lucie Safarova earned arguably the biggest win of her career, or at least the biggest title of her career on Saturday afternoon when she worked her way past two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the WTA Doha tournament final.
Safarova, who held a losing record against Azarenka, snatched an early break against the Belarusian and maintained that lead throughout the remainder of the match, as she pushed from 3-1 up to a straightforward 6-4, 6-3 scoreline. It was a magnificent way to conclude a campaign in Qatar where she defeated fifth seed Ekaterina Makarova, sixth seed Andrea Petkovic and ninth seed Carla Suárez Navarro.
“I’m really excited and happy about this because it took me quite a few years to get to this point,” Safarova said. “I hope it’s not a finish point and I can still improve. My game improved a lot the last couple of years. I think me and my coach, Rob Steckley, have been doing a great job together. It’s just hard work and also maturing a little bit – I think it’s just everything coming together right now.”
Apart from lifting the biggest title of her career, Safarova will rise from No.15 to a career-high No.11 on the WTA rankings. She achieved this by ending Azarenka’s 14-match win streak after the Aussie Open, and denied her a third consecutive title in Doha. Ranked NO. 48, Azarenka will continue to plummet in the rankings until she regains her old form and starts to win tournaments. This was her first final since the 2014 Brisbane International, and that is certainly worth celebrating.
“It’s been a long week for me. It’s been a while since I had that many matches in a row,” Azarenka said. “Sometimes the body needs to get back into that rhythm. It wasn’t my best today, but I tried my best.
“And there’s been a lot of progress this week. A lot of good things happened, a lot of great matches. There are a lot of things I can take with me and can keep working on – I’m still really motivated. I’m obviously disappointed for losing the final today, but I just have to move on from this quickly.”