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.
More from Beijing [05.10.2013]
After beating Misaki Doi 6-3 6-2 in the second round in Beijing, Sara lost in a long and close match to Petra Kvitova: 4-6 7-6 6-3.
In doubles, Sara and Roberta beat Chan/Huber and Mladenovic/Pennetta before losing in the semifinal to Cara Black and Sania Mirza.
Of course you can find all the pictures from Beijing in the photogallery.
Next week Sara has a week off, before playing her last regular tournament of the season in Moscow.
Sara had an early start in Beijing and already played her first match. She beat Kirsten Flipkens, #20 in the world, 7-6 6-1. In the first set, Sara lost a 5-2 lead, but did very well to close out the tiebreak. The second set was a lot easier.
In the second round Sara will play against Misaki Doi or Silvia Soler Espinosa, who play their first round today.
In the photogallery you can find some pictures of Sara in Beijing.
2nd round loss [25.09.2013]
Unfortunately Sara lost in the second round in Tokyo. It was a tight match, but Svetlana Kuznetsova proved too strong and scored a 6-4 6-4 win.
Next up is the China Open in Beijing, next week.
There is also good news, because Sara and Roberta have officially qualified for the WTA Year end championships for the 2nd year in a row!
Sara had a couple of weeks off after the US Open, but she'll be back on court this week. She's 3rd seed at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, and has a bye in the first round. In the second round she'll play against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The full draw can be seen here. Sara and Roberta aren't playing doubles this week.
During the time off, the Spanish website Master1000 published a very nice interview with Sara's coach, Pablo Lozano.
Double bagel! [28.08.2013]
For the third time in her career (and the first time in a Grand Slam), Sara won a match without losing a single game! Instead of Ayumi Morita, who withdrew, she played against Olivia Rogowska, and she won 6-0 6-0 in just over 50 minutes. It was a good performance by Sara, though she was helped by 38 unforced errors by Rogowska.
In the second round Sara will play against fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta leads the H2H 3-2, but Sara won the last meeting, in the final of Acapulco last year.
US Open [25.08.2013]
With a first round loss, New Haven probably wasn't the preparation for the US Open that Sara was hoping for, but next week will be a new tournament with new chances!
In the last Grand Slam of the year, Sara is 4th seed (her highest seed at a Grand Slam ever) and faces Ayumi Morita in the first round. They've met twice before (last in Pattaya in 2011) and the head to head is tied at 1-1. You can check the full draw here.
New Haven [19.08.2013]
After a good win over Polona Hercog in Cincinnati, Sara lost to good friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci in the 3rd round.
This week Sara plays the New Haven Open at Yale, where she is top seed and will play Ekaterina Makarova or Aleksandra Wozniak in her first match. It's the last tournament before the US Open and Sara and Roby take a break from doubles this week.
With wins over Klara Zakopalova (6-2 7-6) and Alizé Cornet (7-5 7-6) Sara made it to the quarterfinal in Toronto. Unfortunately she lost that quarterfinal to Agnieszka Radwanska, in a close match: 6-7 5-7. Sara wasn't feeling well yesterday, but she kept fighting till the end and made it really close against the world #4.
In doubles, Sara and Roberta made it to the quarterfinals as well, where they lost to the Canadian team of Gabrowski/Fichman.
Meanwhile the draw for next weeks tournament, the Western&Southen Open in Cincinnati has already been released. Sara has a bye in the first round again, and will play Dominika Cibulkova or a qualifier in the second round.
After three weeks without tournaments, Sara will be back at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, starting on monday. She has a bye in the first round and will play the winner of Klara Zakopalova-Lucie Safarova in the second round. The full draw is available here.
Unfortunately Sara didn't win the final in Palermo. Roberta Vinci proved too strong in 3 sets: 6-3 3-6 6-3. Both players said after the match that it was hard to play against a good friend, but Sara also said that she was happy to make the final here, and hopefully she'd be back next year!
You can find all the pictures from Palermo in the photogallery.
Sara will have 3 weeks off now, to have a little holiday and relax. She will be back on the WTA Tour at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, starting the 5th of august.
Last saturday, Sara was featured in Io donna, an Italian magazine. You can read the interview and see the pictures here.
After wins over Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova (6-3 6-2), Silvia Soler Espinosa (6-4 6-4) and Klara Zakopalova (6-4 6-4), Sara is again in the final in Palermo! It's Sara's 4th final at the tournament, which she's won twice (in 2008 and 2012).
In the final Sara will play against Roberta Vinci. It will be a special match for sure, not only because they're close friends, but also because Vinci lives and trains in Palermo.
2nd round [10.07.2013]
Sara is in the 2nd round in Palermo, after beating Julia Cohen 6-0 6-1. In the second round she'll play against Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, in a repeat of last years final.
The draw for the XXVI Italiacom Open in Palermo has been released. As the only top10 player in the draw, Sara is first seed. In the first round she'll play against Julia Cohen from the USA, who she has beaten once before. You can check the full draw here.
Sara and Roberta don't play doubles this week.
Third round doubles [03.07.2013]
Wimbledon ended in the third round for Sara and Roberta. After beating Keothavong/Konta 6-3 6-1 in the first round, and Grandin/Uhlirova 6-2 6-3 in the second round, they lost to Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round, 6-3 2-6 2-6.
Next week Sara will be back on clay, in Palermo.
First round loss [24.06.2013]
Tough day for Sara as she lost to Monica Puig in the first round of Wimbledon. Sara was clearly uncomfortable on the grass, and Puig played a really good match, winning with a score of 6-3 6-2.
After the match, Sara talked about how it's not easy for her to play on the grass: "It's very tough for me here. I'm afraid to fell on the floor and make me injury. So it's fighting by yourself running and running. I cannot move, so that is my problem. Maybe one day I will not be afraid anymore, but it's difficult." She also said that the injury that kept her out of Eastbourne wasn't bothering her anymore; the withdrawal was more of a precaution. However, "if you are with a bit of injury and then you come here, and also without injury you have difficult moving, it's very difficult."
You can read Sara's post-match pressconference on the Wimbledon site.
Of course there's still the doubles tournament! It's unknown yet when Sara and Roby will play their first match.
After two weeks off for Sara, it is time for the 3rd Grand Slam of the year! Wimbledon will start tomorrow, and Sara is 5th seed. In the first round she'll play against Monica Puig, a talented young player from Puerto Rico. They will play tomorrow on court 18, at 11.30am local time.
In doubles, Sara and Roby are the top seed. They play the British team of Anne Keothavong and Johanna Konta in the first round.
Sara also attented the pre-Wimbledon party, of which you can find some pictures here.
Doubles final [08.06.2013]
Unfortunately Sara didn't make the final of Roland Garros in singles. Serena Williams played an amazing match, and was much too strong for Sara: 6-0 6-1. But Sara and Roberta are once again in the doubles final! In a tough semifinal they beat Petrova/Srebotnik 6-3 5-7 6-3. In the final they will play the Russian team of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
Into the semifinal! [05.06.2013]
With a great match in the quarterfinals, Sara has once again made it to the semifinal at Roland Garros! She beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 7-6 in a match that lasted almost two hours. "Agnieszka is very strong", said Sara after the match, "we have a very similar game. We don't hit a lot of winners, but we don't really hit a lot of errors either."
In the semifinal Sara will face world #1 Serena Williams. It will be a tough match of course, but as Sara said after her quarterfinal that it's normal to find a player like Serena across the net at this stage of a Grand Slam. Sara also said she didn't expect to be in another semifinal this year. "I'm defending so many points here in Paris, so there was a lot of tension. It's the first time I'm in this situation in a big tournament, and it's hard. I'm glad because I was able to handle the tension very well."
Sara has also been on the Road to Roland Garros, a video series.
4th round [03.06.2013]
Sara's 4th round match at Roland Garros was very long and tough, but she made it through! She beat Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7 6-4 6-3 and will face Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinal.
Sara said after the match that her coach had told her to play to Suarez' forehand, but she just couldn't do it, and she struggled a lot during the match. At 5-5 and 40-40, Sara suddenly doubled over in pain and called for the trainer. She explained after the match that "Every time I was breathing was very painful. I know it wasn't muscular, but I couldn't stay up. So I called the physio and she told me that I had the diaphragm totally blocked and she tried to release it a bit. After it was much better. It's still painful to touch and I will go to the physio for sure, but it was very strange. This has never happened to me (before) and it was a very strange feeling. I couldn't breathe (so it) made me more nervous."
After the injury timeout, Sara went on to lost the first set and got 4-2 behind in the second set, but then she fought back and won the second and third set.
You can find a long matchreport on ubitennis, where they have also posted the articles on the match from Italian media. Federtennis has also posted an article, with lots of quotes from Sara's pressconference.
Of course all the pictures from the match are in the photogallery.
Roland Garros [01.06.2013]
Sara has started her Roland Garros 2013 campaign well, after 3 easy wins, she's already in the 4th round. She beat Arantxa Rus 6-1 6-2 in the first round, Yulia Putintseva 6-1 6-1 in the second round, and Sabine Lisicki 6-0 6-4 in the third round. In the first round she'll play against Carla Suarez Navarro, for the 4th (!) time this year.
Roland Garros draw [24.05.2013]
The draw for Roland Garros has been released. It's the 2nd Grand Slam of the year, and Sara is defending her points from making the final last year. She's 5th seed, and will play against Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands in the first round. Sara leads the head-to-head 3-0, all 3 matches won in 2 sets. The first seed Sara can meet is 32nd seed Sabine Lisicki from Germany. You can see the full draw here.