Safarova qualifies for WTA Finals

Safarova qualifies for WTA Finals

October 23, 2015

MOSCOW — Lucie Safarova grabbed the last spot at the WTA finals Thursday after Carla Suarez Navarro lost to a qualifier at the Kremlin Cup.

Suarez Navarro could have qualified for the season-ending tournament in Singapore by reaching the final in Moscow but was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Russia's Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals.

Suarez Navarro landed just 56 percent of her first serves as she was dismissed in less than an hour by Kasatkina, who at 104th in the world is ranked 90 places below her Spanish opponent.

Suarez Navarro said she had "a really bad day" against Kasatkina but denied she was feeling the pressure of having to qualify for next week's finals.

"I don't think about Singapore at all this match," she said. "I just tried to play good, to be focused on my game, but she played good tactically and I couldn't be aggressive."

Czech player Safarova had lost in the first round in Moscow to reigning champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In Singapore, she joins Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber and Flavia Pennetta.

In the Moscow semifinals, Kasatkina will face one of two fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat compatriot Margarita Gasparyan 6-1, 6-3.

The other semifinal will pit Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova had a tough start against Latvian qualifier Anastasija Sevastova 5-7, 6-1, 6-3. Tsurenko had a walkover when third-seeded Pennetta withdrew Wednesday citing a leg injury.

In the men's event, Marin Cilic of Croatia, seeded first, struggled with his powerful serve during a tough second-round match with Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin. Cilic fought back hard after losing the second set to go 4-0 up in the decider and eventually clinch the match 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.

That sets up a quarterfinal meeting with either eighth-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin or Russian Andrei Kuznetsov.

France's Lucas Pouille won his second-round match against Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 7-6 (5). He meets second-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the quarterfinals.

Baghdatis ousts Tomic

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus upset fourth-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia 7-6 (7), 6-3 Wednesday to advance to the Stockholm Open quarterfinals.

Baghdatis, who won the tournament in 2009, said he had used his “brain a lot” against Tomic.

Baghdatis next plays eighth-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, who defeated John Millman of Australia 7-5, 6-3.

The 32-year-old Muller fired 14 aces in the 76-minute victory.

Seventh-seeded Jack Sock served 10 aces on his way to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 win over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. The 23-year-old American is seeking his second career ATP World Tour title after winning at Houston in April.

Kvitova to lead Czechs

World No. 5 Petra Kvitova will spearhead defending champions the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup final against Russia in Prague on Nov. 14-15, the Czech team said Thursday.

On the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena, the Czechs will also rely on ninth-ranked Lucie Safarova, Karolina Pliskova (15) and Barbora Strycova (42). Kvitova and Safarova have led the Czech Republic to three trophies from the last four Fed Cup editions.

Russia has called up world No. 3 Maria Sharapova, 24th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (31) and Elena Vesnina (111).

Vesnina and Makarova are in the top ten of the WTA doubles rankings, ranked seventh and ninth, respectively.

Serena, Murray to begin 2016 at Hopman Cup

World No. 1 Serena Williams and British star Andy Murray will start their 2016 seasons at the Hopman Cup in Perth, organizers said Wednesday.

The American great will be back on court for the Jan. 3-9 tournament as she prepares to defend her Australian Open title at Melbourne Park later that month.

“Perth definitely started something quite amazing so I think it’s only natural and fair and reasonable that I go back to Perth,” said Williams, who went on to win not only the Australian Open but the French Open and Wimbledon.

Murray will partner Heather Watson for Britain while retiring Australian star Lleyton Hewitt will play alongside Casey Dellacqua. — Agencies

October 23, 2015