Safarova credits improvement to consistency, maturity

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Lucie Safarova reached her first major semifinal at last year's Wimbledon and sealed her sixth WTA title this week in Doha. (AP Photo)

The Czech veteran Lucie Safarova, who will rise to No. 11 on Monday after winning the Qatar Open over Victoria Azarenka, says she has taken time to mature and gain consistency. "It took me quite a few years to get to this point. I hope it's not a finish point and I can still improve that," Safarova said. "I think it's like I'm playing more consistent."

The 28-year-old reached her first Grand Slam semifinal last year at Wimbledon, losing to fellow Czech Petra Kvitova. At the end of 2014, she and Kvitova raised the title at Fed Cup for the third time in four years, defeating Germany.  

This year, the left-hander started slowly, but found her rhythm in Dubai, beating Venus Williams in the quarterfinals before losing to another Czech, Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals. In Qatar, she bested Ekaterina Makarova, Andre Petkovic, Carla Suarez Navarro and former No. 1 Azarenka.    

Safarova has been working with Canadian coach Rob Steckley. "My game improved a lot throughout the last couple of years. I think we did the great job together with my coach, Rob, on my game and it's just hard work and also maturing a little bit," Safarova said. "I think it's everything together. Also, the health was good the last couple of years. So I really enjoy the game and enjoy to compete."

Last summer, Steckley said she could reach the Top 5. "She has always been in and out of the Top 20 but now it is a matter of her believing that she can stay and push further and further to reach the Top 10 and possibly the Top 5,” Steckley told Tennis Canada. "I think it has never been a secret that she has always had the game. She has got all the tools."
 

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