Looking back on Prague 2016: “It was one of the sweetest victories”
Recently interviewed in Prague, Lucie Safarova looked back on her meaningul victory last year, at the J&T Banka Prague Open.
Are you looking forward to the Prague tournament after last year’s victory?
“I always look forward to competing in Prague. This is our only WTA tournament in Czechia and our only chance (apart from FED CUP) to play in front of our amazing home crowd, and yes I must admit that after last year’s victory I am even more excited to come back and play. I have so many beautiful memories from here”.
Does the fact that you have so many points to defend make this tournament more stressful?
“Sure, it does put some extra pressure on you but after all these years on tour I have learned how to handle it. The season is long and if you don’t manage to defend your points at one tournament you get a chance to win points the following weeks. I do everything I can to win but success isn’t guaranteed. Those are the rules of our sport. What’s most important is to stay positive and work hard towards your goals”.
Even though this is a small tournament, was it one of your most memorable triumphs?
“Without a doubt! Home is home. For me it was a very emotional moment. It was the first win after my long lasting health problems and I had amazing support from the spectators. It was simply a beautiful time for me”.
Do you still remember the match point? What went through your mind right after the game/set/match Šafářová?
“Yes I do. I was extremely nervous, and then came this huge relief and overwhelming happiness. Even now when I think about that moment I have a big smile on my face”.
Do you think your tennis form is better than last year?
“I am definitely in much better physical shape right now. I have also played many more matches on tour this year, therefore I do think that my form is much better”.
One thing has changed since last year: you turned 30. Do you feel any different about your career comparing it now to your twenties?
“Indeed, time flies… I am for sure much more experienced now and I do enjoy tennis much more. In the past I was very stressed about all the small things, now I take it all in a more relaxed way. What’s most important for me now is my health”.
Talking about your age, are there moments when you realize that you have already had a long career?
“This year in America I was called ‘a tennis veteran’ a few times. They use that term for experienced players… The fact is that I have been travelling around the world for thirteen years. I have played many professional tournaments. I know that my body needs more time to recover now but I do feel good and I will play as long as possible”.
Since last year you have a new coach: František Čermák. Are you happy with how the two of you are cooperating?
“Yes, very much. I did enjoy my work with Rob and I have amazing memories from those years, but it was time for a change. František is great. He played tennis for many years and had a lot of success. He knows how it feels to be in the middle of a tennis match and is able to give me good advice. I hope we will enjoy a lot of success together and we will work our way back into the top 10”.
Interview posted on the J&T Banka Prague Open website