Tennis News

Tennis-Open-Childhood sweethearts Berdych, Safarova lift spirits

MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Love’s young dream, in the form of two promising Czechs, conjured up a couple of the sweetest victories imaginable in Melbourne on Sunday.

Childhood sweethearts Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova lifted the spirits after two emphatic wins at the Australian Open, with Lucie’s victory over Amelie Mauresmo winning bragging rights and, for a few days at least, sparing her the moniker of ‘Berdych’s girlfriend’.

Safarova’s undoubted talent has been overshadowed by the explosive promise of the 21-year-old world number 13, but on Rod Laver Arena the 19-year-old won acclaim in her own right with a stunning two-set win over the reigning champion.

Just as she was wrapping up a career-breakthrough victory and a place in the quarter-finals, boyfriend Tomas was completing a three-set destruction of Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov to book his fourth-round place.

“That’s amazing that we both finish at the same time,” said Safarova after her 6-4 6-3 win over the French second seed.

“We grow up together in the same club in Prostejov, we still practise there. We’ve known each other since we were small kids.”

Their success has forced a premature end to their mixed doubles campaign, with Saturday’s rain delays meaning Berdych will be in action in the singles again on Monday.

Practice partners since they were young children but partners in life for only four years, the duo believe their relationship is helping their tennis careers.

“Of course it’s a fantastic result for her, she’s in the quarter-final,” said Berdych, who rose to prominence when he defeated world number one Roger Federer at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“Both of us are playing really good, (the relationship) has advantages. I think it’s true because we know each other, the travel, the practising, all the things you do together in tennis. Yeah it works.”

Something clearly is working with Berdych set to face Russian Nikolay Davydenko for a place in the last eight while Safarova faces fellow Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova for a semi-final place.

Asked how she would be celebrating the biggest win of her career, Safarova grinned as she replied: “I don’t know.”