The Internazionali BNL d’Italia are ready to welcome back their pride and joy after the stunning run in 2014, in which she reached the last round – prematurely lost due to a thigh injury while playing – against the n.1 player in the world Serena Williams. Sarita is eager to prove herself again to be the only Italian woman to fight for the final victory of the Roman Premier Mandatory since 1985.
Players’ guest at the official Draw cerimony along with the Italian legend Nicola Pietrangeli into his self-titled arena, Sara (n.13 seed here) picked Daniela Hantuchova as her first opponent. Serena would be on her road in last-16 round. The two already met 10 times throughout their careers and Hantuchova – WTA’s n.55 – holds the best match record, 6-4.
Sara’s first match took place today under the burning sun but also with the flaming support of the Foro Italico’s Centre Court. The win didn’t come as easy as most people thought, whereas she seemed to be fully aware of the incoming danger:
“Of course Rome is a special tournament for any Italian to compete. You want to give your best for the fans but unfortunately every match, even first rounds, has its own trick to be kept in mind. Daniela is an extremely aggressive player who can display her strength on clay too, so I guess the best strategy for me would be to move her a lot.“
The first set – not considering the first 2 games – started with a 6 consecutive break streak, until Sara stepped her game up and took the 5-4 lead, to close the partial clash right after.
Still, Hanthuchova wasn’t willing to give it up and kept fighting with her best shots – suoi wide crossed winners, deep court strikes and drop-shots – to gain a 5-2 advantage. It was the amazing fans who shook Sara into the comeback, giving her pride and heat to tie the match and win the tie-break (6-4, 7-6(4)).
Sarita’s comments about the match during press conference were:
“I’m so happy I got through the first round today considering I didn’t play my best tennis. The very first match always comes with lots of pressure but I managed to win anyway so it’s fine. Serena in the last-16 round? I would say first I need to reach it myself, then I will think about it. I’m feeling good, my physical condition is optimal now but you would never know about tomorrow. To be mentally ready is essential instead.”
In second round Sara will face the qualified Christina McHale. The American beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (7-6, 6-1) in today’s match.