02 Mar 2009

Lucie Hradecka - February 2009


$75,000 Midland - Lucie Hradecka (champion)



Our featured player this month is 23-year old Lucie Hradecka from the Czech Republic.

During the month, Hradecka took part in three tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit, claiming the singles titles at the first two and the doubles title at the third.  This month also saw her break into the WTA Top 100 for the first time in her career.

The month started with a $25,000 tournament held in Belfort, a town in North-eastern France, where she was looking to improve on her 2008 quarterfinal finish.  Taking place on indoor courts, Hradecka, the number 1 seed, defeated Russia’s Varvara Galina in the opening round, 64 61.  The second round brought about an encounter with Virginie Pichet from France.  Hradecka was pushed hard by the Frenchwoman but managed to emerge victorious in three sets 64 36 64.  The quarterfinal was over after just four games as Hradecka’s opponent, German qualifier, Andrea Petkovic, retired from the match whilst trailing 40.  A Wildcard entrant in the shape of Claire Feuerstein, the second Frenchwoman to face Hradecka, now stood between her and a place in the final.  Not to be denied a shot at the title, Hradecka raced to a 61 64 victory and a place in her first singles final since July 2008.  The final was a clash of the top seeds but the match was not to be as close as might have been expected and Hradecka dropped just five games against her Russian opponent, Vesna Manasieva.  Her 63 62 triumph took her career singles title count to thirteen.

From France, Hradecka travelled across the Atlantic to the USA for a $75,000 indoor tournament taking place in the city of Midland in the state of Michigan.  Seeded five, Hradecka began with a match against Russian opposition for the second successive tournament.  A 62 64 win over Ekaterina Ivanova was followed by another straight sets victory (61 75) in her second round match with Anna Gerasimou from Greece.  Fourth seed Stephanie Foretz from France was then narrowly defeated 76(2) 64 to set up another match against a Russian player, Evgeniya Rodina.  Hradecka looked to be on her way out of the tournament when she dropped a close first set 75 but she fought back to record a 57 64 60 win and make it into a second successive singles final.  In the final she faced former WTA World number 14 Eleni Daniilidou, a Wildcard entrant into this event.  Hradecka claimed back-to-back singles titles for the first time in her career as she wrapped up victory in straight sets 63 63.  Following this tournament, the WTA World Rankings revealed that Hradecka had moved into the WTA Top 100 for the first time.

Also at this tournament, Hradecka competed in the doubles event with Michaela Pastikova; a player she has partnered on many occasions over the past three years.  Named as the fourth seeds, they progressed as far as the semi finals where they lost a tight match 76(4) 75 to the eventual champions.

Her final ITF Pro Circuit tournament of the month took place in the city of Clearwater; located on the central west coast of the state of Florida.  This $50,000 tournament was played on outdoor courts and despite her successes earlier in the month, Hradecka, seeded fourth, was knocked out in the first round by Mervana Jugic-Salkic in three sets, 75 36 61.  Although now out of the singles event her tournament was far from over as she once again partnered Michaela Pastikova in the doubles where they were named the number 2 seeds.  Together they had little trouble progressing through the draw to the final where they were crowned champions, albeit in rather anti-climatic circumstances as the final itself was unable to be played due to an opponent’s earlier disqualification from the tournament during the singles final.  Still, this wasn’t to stop them celebrating a first doubles title together having lost on the previous three occasions that they had reached a doubles final.

Having claimed back-to-back singles titles (her 13th and 14th of her career) in the opening two weeks and then ending the month with her twenty-fourth career doubles title on the ITF Pro Circuit together with the achievement of breaking into the WTA Top 100 for the very first time, this will always be a month to remember for Lucie Hradecka.

Nick Fishpool