After the disappointment in the Fed Cup last weekend, Sara is having a good week so far in Stuttgart. It's obvious she's happy to be back on her favourite surface, as can be seen by the two solid wins she's scored in singles, and the two easy wins in doubles.
In singles, Sara beat Klara Koukalova 6-3 6-4 in the first round, and Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-3 in the second round. Sara played well in both matches, and finished both matches with a positive winner/unforced error ratio. The next round will likely be tougher though. She'll play against Carla Suarez Navarro, and even though Sara leads the head to head 6-3, many of the matches have been close, especially recent matches.
In doubles, Sara and Roberta are in the semifinal already, after comfortable wins against Goerges/Groenefeld and Mircic/Thorpe (6-2 6-2 in both matches).
Fed Cup and Stuttgart [21.04.2014]
This weekend the semifinals in the Fed Cup were played. Italy played the Czech Republic in Ostrava. Home advantage was a major factor, as the Czechs put down a fast indoor hardcourt, a surface on which they proved to be superior to the Italians this weekend. Sara played the first match of the tie, and lost 4-6 1-6 to Lucie Safarova. Italy also lost the other 3 matches of the weekend, and won't be defending their title in november; it will be a final between the Czech republic and Germany.
This week the clayseason is starting, at an indoor claytournament in Stuttgart, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Sara is 8th seed and in the first round she has a chance to take revenge for the Fed Cup weekend as she plays Czech Klara Koukalova in the first round. In doubles, Sara and Roberta are the top seed, and they play Groenefeld/Goerges in the first round. You can check the full draws here and here.
Of course you can also find some pictures from the Fed Cup weekend in the photogallery.
Sara is in the quarterfinals in Charleston after wins over Kiki Bertens and Shuai Peng. In the 2nd round Bertens had to retire after Sara won the first set 6-3. The second round was a lot tougher. There were breaks back and forth, and Sara had to save a setpoint in both sets, but took them both in a tiebreak.
Her quartfinal opponent will be either Belinda Bencic or Elina Svitolina.
A few weeks ago Sara was wondering where all the clay tournaments were and now they are finally starting. There are 5 claycourt tournaments on Sara's schedule for the upcoming 2 months (and one more in july), starting next week on the green clay of Charleston, at the Family Circle Cup.
Although Sara will drop out of the top 10 next week (for the first time since she made the Roland Garros final in 2012), she is still 3rd seeded at the Family Circle Cup and will receive a BYE in the first round. Her first opponent will be either Paula Ormaechea or a qualifier. The full draw is available here.
Of course there are some pictures from Miami in our photogallery.
3rd round loss [23.03.2014]
After a good win in the 2nd round, unfortunately Sara is out of Miami after a tough loss in the 3rd round. She fought really hard in her loss against Ekaterina Makarova, but in the end the Russian won 6-3 2-6 6-4.
Sara and Roby are also out of doubles, after an equally tough match against Muguruza/Suarez Navarro: 6-7 6-1 10-12.
Sara's next tournament will be in Charleston next week, the first tournament of the clay season.
Sony Open Tennis - Miami [18.03.2014]
The draw of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells has been released. Sara is 9th seed, and has a bye in the first round. In the second round she will play fellow Italian Karin Knapp or a qualifier.
In doubles, Sara and Roberta are 3rd seed and they will play Garbiņe Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round
3rd round [11.03.2014]
Unfortunately Sara lost in the third round of Indian Wells to Eugenie Bouchard; 3-6 3-6.
Sara's next tournament is another mandatory event, the Sony Open Tennis in Miami.
2nd round win [07.03.2014]
With a fairly routine 6-1 6-1 win over Canadian Sharon Fichman, Sara is in the 3rd round of Indian Wells. Though Sara got broken once in both sets, her win was never in danger as Fichman couldn't hold serve once.
Unfortunately the doubles tourmament didn't start as well. Sara and Roberta lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur in the first round.
Indian Wells [04.03.2014]
Apologies for the delay in updates, we were experiencing some problems with the website. But we're back now!
The draw of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells has been released. Sara is 9th seed, and has a bye in the first round. In the second round she will play Shahar Peer or a qualifier. You can check the full draw here.
The doubles draw has not been released yet.
For the third year in a row, Sara and Roberta are in the final of the Australian Open! After losing the final in 2012 and winning the title last year, on friday they will have the chance to win their 2nd title in Melbourne - and their 4th Grand Slam title overall.
The quarterfinal against Cara Black and Sania Mirza was a very hardfought match. Sara and Roberta won 6-2 3-6 6-4 after being 4-1 and a double break behind in the third set. The semifinal was a little easier: 6-1 6-4 against Peschke/Srebotnik, whom they had never beaten before!
In the final on friday our Cichis will play against Makarova/Vesnina, and there is a lot on stake: not only the first Grand Slam title of the year, but also the #1 ranking. If Sara and Roberta win, they keep the #1 ranking, if Makarova/Vesnina win, Vesnina will take over the top spot.
After wins over Barthel/Moulton-Levy (7-5 6-2) and Kanepi/Voracova (1-6 6-1 6-1), Sara and Roby are in the third round at the Australian Open. Their opponents in the third round will be either Adamczak/Rogowska or Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova.
Of course all the pictures from Melbourne are available in the photogallery.
1st round loss [13.01.2014]
Unfortunately Sara lost in the first round of the Australian Open, 3-6 2-6 to Julia Goerges from Germany.
Despite the loss, the Australian Open isn't over yet. Sara and Roberta will try to defend their doubles title from last year. They are first seed and will play Barthel/Moulton-Levy in the first round. You can check the full doubles draw here.
Quarterfinal in Sydney [07.01.2014]
Sara is in the quarterfinal of the Premier tournament in Sydney. In the first round she won the Italian derby against Roberta Vinci, 6-4 6-2. In the second round Sara beat Lauren Davis, 7-5 6-2.
In the quarterfinal, Sara will play against Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria. Sara won their only previous meeting (in Brisbane in 2009) in three sets.
Of course you can find all the pictures from Shenzhen and Sydney in the photogallery.
Sara started the year with a second round in Shenzhen. After a hard-fought win over Saisai Zheng, in the first round, she lost in three sets to Vania King in the second round.
Fed Cup champion! [06.11.2013]
Last weekend Italy won their 4th Fed Cup in the last 8 years! In the final they beat Russia 4-0. With 2 wins, Sara played a vital role in the tie. Though Russia didn't play with their best team, the first match was really tough - after more than 3 hours Roberta Vinci beat Alexandra Panova 5-7 7-5 8-6. Sara then beat Irina Khromacheva 6-1 6-4, to give Italy a 2-0 lead after the first day. On sunday, Sara played against the Russian #2, Alisa Kleybanova, and won 6-1 6-1, to clinch the Cup for Italy. After the celebrations on court, Flavia Pennetta and Karin Knapp sealed the perfect tie for Italy by winning the 'dead' doubles rubber as well.
You can find all the pictures from the weekend (from the draw ceremony, the matches and the celebrations) in the photogallery. All the articles from Italian media about saturday (including an interview with Sara's coach Pablo Lozano) are here, and the articles about sunday are here.
Now the 2013 season is officially over for Sara, and what a season it has been again! She'll have a few weeks off now before starting the preparations for 2014.
Out of Istanbul [27.10.2013]
After she lost against Victoria Azarenka, Sara also lost her second match in Istanbul, 3-6 6-7 to Na Li. However, despite not having a chance to go through to the semifinals anymore, Sara beat Jelena Jankovic in the last round robin match: 6-4 6-4. Most importantly, the injury she sustained during the first match in Istanbul didn't hinder her too much, she was able to move as well as always.
In doubles, Sara and Roberta played their semifinal against Makarova/Vesnina. Unfortunately they lost 6-4 5-7 3-10.
The WTA Championships were the last regular tournament of the season, however Sara is not done yet! Next weekend the Fed Cup final will be played in Cagliari. Sara, Roberta, Flavia Pennetta and Karin Knapp will face the Russian team of Alexandra Panova, Alisa Kleybanova, Irina Khromacheva and Margarita Gasparyan.
In the photogallery you can find all the pictures from Istanbul, both on- and offcourt. On Curiosi di Sport you can read a nice interview with Sara from Istanbul. And of course the WTA site has posted several videos with interviews and highlights of the matches.
Close loss [22.10.2013]
Sara's first match in Istanbul was a close match, but unfortunately she lost 6-7 2-6 to Victoria Azarenka. In the first set it was very close. Sara took a lead but with her great return-game Azarenka came back in the set and won it in a tiebreak. In the tiebreak of the first set, Sara felt a pain in her calf, which continued to give her problems in the second set. Even though she kept fighting, this meant that the second set wasn't as close as the first.
"Sara played a great match," said her brother Davide after the match, "not only in the first set. Towards the end of the tiebreak she got cramps. She continued to play but obviously it did not get better and at some points in the second set she had difficulties playing. We hope it's nothing serious and she can play tomorrow."
In the photogallery you can find pictures from the match today.
The last tournament of the year, the WTA Championships, will start in Istanbul on tuesday. The tournament features the best 8 players in the world and Sara has qualified for singles as well as doubles for the second year in a row. The doubles draw has not been released yet, but in singles Sara is in the white group, where she will meet Victoria Azarenka, Na Li and Jelena Jankovic. Het first match is on tuesday, at 5PM local time, against world #2 Victoria Azarenka.
In the photogallery you can find pictures from sundays draw ceremony and mondays All Access Hour. During the all access hour, Angelica Fratini did a very nice interview with Sara, which you can read here. On youtube, you can watch Sara at WTALive, and you can watch the draw ceremony.
WTA championships [08.10.2013]
By making the quarterfinal in Beijing last week Sara qualified for the WTA's year end championships in singles, as well as in doubles! This makes Sara the first Italian player to qualify for the WTA Championships two years in a row. Even more impressively, she is the first player since the institution of the round robin format in 2003 to qualify for the Championships in singles and doubles (in the same year) twice, and only the fifth player in history to do so!
The Gazzetta dello Sport posted an interview with Sara today, where she talks about qualifying for the WTA Championships and her struggle with pressure earlier this year, among other things.