NEW YORK, NY, USA - Lucie Safarova ended a successful Saturday at the US Open by partnering fellow No.3 seed Barbora Strycova to dispatch Alla Kudryavtseva and Zheng Saisai, 6-3, 6-2. The former French Open finalist had kicked off play on Day 6 with a decisive singles win over Kurumi Nara.
"Of course, I feel tired; I won’t lie, because it’s been a lot of tennis," she said after her doubles win. "Luckily, there were no three-setters today, so it could be worse. I’m very excited because this US Open is going great for me, and I hope it can continue."
Safarova has long been one half of one of the best doubles teams on tour alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and clinched the WTA doubles No.1 during the Western & Southern Open when the American was forced to shut down her season due to a right knee injury.
"Bara is also a great singles player. She moves around a lot at the net. You apply different strategies to different opponents. It’s quite similar to the way it is with Bethanie, because she’s also energetic. I’m very stable from the baseline, and can do my work at the net. Bethanie’s one of the best players at the net."
Mattek-Sands has been showing her support through her temporary role at Tennis Channel and ESPN, something Safarova sees as a perfect fit for her charasmatic friend.
"She’s been doing amazing. I think she’s born to be a TV girl, because she has tons of experience and knows all of us. She has tons of fans on tour. It’s great that she can do this while she can’t play, and can stay in touch with everyone."
Enjoying a surge of form in both doubles and singles, the Czech veteran won all four sets played at the US Open, first dismissing Nara, who earned her first Top 10 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday, then partnering fellow Olympic Bronze medalist Barbora Strycova to drop just five games against Kudryavtseva and Zheng.
A former World No.5 in singles, Safarova narrowly missed out on a Top 32 seed, but gamely defeated a surging Anett Kontaveit to kick off her fortnight and battled past an inspired Nao Hibino before playing some of her best tennis for Labor Day weekend as she aims for a first US Open quarterfinal.
"When you’re seeded, you know you can’t face a Top 32 player too early, so that makes life a little easier. At the same time, if you want to go far in the tournament - or even win it! - you have to beat those kinds of players anyway. My approach was to go step by step, and that’s what I’m doing."
She'll retake the singles court on Monday against No.20 seed CoCo Vandeweghe, whom she leads 3-1 in their overall head-to-head.
"We played in Indian Wells, and it was a tough match. She’s a big hitter, and I would be expecting her to serve really well and go for the first or second shot. She’s doing more serve and volleying now, but I will play my game, mix up things with my lefty style, and go strong."
All this winning has kept #coffeewithlucie from truly taking hold of Manhattan, but Safarova wouldn't have it any other way.
"I’ve done zero fun things so far, because I’ve been playing every day! It’s a privilege to not have time to explore New York. I would love for this to continue until the end of next week, and then I can enjoy some shopping!"
Around the grounds...
No.2 seeds Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan were in action for a second straight day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and didn't disappoint the Court 7 crowd with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova. The pair were set to play Jankovic and Sevastova in the Mallorca Open final back in June before the Latvian gave a walkover due to injury.
Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are a relatively new team, but their combined results with other partners helped earn them the No.13 seed. The duo recovered from a disastrous start - losing the first five games of the opening set - to ultimately survive Wang Qiang and Wang Yafan, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
No.4 seeds Sania Mirza and Peng Shuai also kept up their winning ways, shaking off losing a first set where they initially led 5-1 to beat Magdalena Rybarikova and Jana Cepelova, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3.