CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Lucie Safarova endured a major blow to her surging doubles career when regular partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands incurred a season-ending knee injury at Wimbledon. The Czech veteran has soldiered on with fellow Olympic bronze medalist Barbora Strycova this summer, and became the 35th woman in WTA history to ascend to doubles No.1 following a successful week at the Western & Southern Open. Safarova is the fourth Czech woman to lead the WTA rankings in doubles, and, along with singles No.1 Karolina Pliskova, is one half of the first all-Czech duo to be No.1 in the world.
WTA Insider caught up with Safarova shortly after she clinched the top spot to discuss her rise, her pride in Czech tennis, and her hopes for a Team Bucie reunion with Mattek-Sands after her recovery:
On becoming World No.1...
"It's amazing and I'm super excited. You work every day to achieve your goals and I feel like a dream happened.
On the all-Czech shut-out with Pliskova...
"How amazing is that? We're such a small country and it's a huge achievement. We should be proud of the amazing tennis players we have."
On Mattek-Sands' injury and pairing with Strycova during her absence...
"I know most of what we reached was with Bethanie and the Team Bucie thing that we have is so amazing. I know a big part of this she deserves as well. I wish we were sitting here now and we were both No.1. I think we both deserve it. I hope that in the future we can be back together as Team Bucie and capturing this together.
"Obviously on the other side I love Bara and she's my great friend and we grew up together, since we were nine years old. Obviously last year, capturing the bronze medal in Rio was very special. When this terrible thing happened in Wimbledon and Bethanie got injured, for me Bara was the first choice. We are doing great and I'm happy that I'm sitting here at World No.1, but I do miss Bethanie a lot."
Hear more from Safarova on the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast: