Doha: Top-5 Moments of 2015

5. Azarenka’s change of subject

Okay, this one is completely self-absorbed and narcissistic…but honestly, it came out of nowhere. After her straight-sets win over Caroline Wozniacki, I was trying to get Victoria Azarenka to talk about the “distractions” that popped-up during the match – namely the fact that the Hawk-eye system failed Wozniacki, creating an awkward five minutes that eventually brought the WTA tournament supervisor to the court. Rather than respond to my lead, Vika shifted gears: “You know, yesterday we were talking about your voice…”

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4. ‘Mericans win the Doha Doubles Title

Congrats to Racquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears. They hoisted their 11th career doubles trophy together on Saturday. It’s been a solid first two months of the year for the team: On top of this title, they were finalists in Sydney and Quarterfinalists at the Australian Open. After the Doha win, they’re now inside the top-10 in the WTA’s doubles rankings.

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3. Machine: Carla Suarez Navarro

Seriously. Carla Suarez Navarro is “endurance” defined. Two weeks prior to Doha, she’d reached the Antwerp Final (where she retired from the championship match because of pain on the left side of her neck). The next week, she’d defeat Petra Kvitova and reach the Dubai quarterfinals – where she’d fall to her doubles teammate Garbine Muguruza. Meanwhile, she and Muguruza played through to the Dubai doubles final. In Doha, Suarez Navarro and Muguruza drew each other in the first round. Muguruza tapped-out after falling behind 5-6 in the first-set, while Suarez Navarro played all the way through to the semifinals, defeating Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova (again) along the way. After her loss to Safarova in the semifinals, Suarez Navarro had played 16 matches in 19 days (singles and doubles combined). Machine.

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2. Semifinal: Victoria Azarenka vs. Venus Williams

Without a doubt, the most-competitive match of the Qatar Total Open 2015 happened in the Semifinals. Vika dropped the first-set 2-6, in her words: “[Venus] was kicking my butt left and right. I didn’t know what to do…I felt like in the second set I really took control and got the advantage.” That she did, winning the second 6-4 and the decider 6-3. The match was a thriller for fans in attendance, including David Beckham – as we discussed after the match…

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1. Lucie Safarova. Her first Premier-level title.

Safarova def. Azarenka 6-4, 6-3. These are remarkable accomplishments for Lucie Safarova in the first two months of 2015: First Grand Slam doubles title at the Australian Open. 6th career singles title in Doha. First Premier level title. Career-high ranking of #11 in the world. And she did it all this week…without her coach. I like that. I like that a lot.