Porridge propels Safarova in Paris final

Lucie Safarova is hoping a diet of porridge and a cheery outlook on life can propel her to a first grand slam title at the relatively advanced age of 28.

The Czech Fed Cup winner made it into Saturday’s French Open final at Roland Garros with an, at times, nervy 7-5 7-5 win over former champion Ana Ivanovic.

The success brought an end to 12 years of trying to get into a grand slam final, her previous best being a run into the Wimbledon semis last year.

In Paris, she had failed to get beyond the round of 16 in 10 previous appearances.

Much of the credit for this Safarova puts down to the hard work she has put in with new Canadian coach Rob Steckley, including a steady diet of porridge to build up her strength.

“We bought a new box yesterday,” she told Czech journalists on Wednesday. “I hope this won’t become a tradition. I can’t even look at it any more.”

But for those who have followed Brno-born Safarova throughout her career, the end result of the fitness regime that Steckley has helped put in place for her is evident to see from her now muscular frame.

The extra strength and stamina proved to be vital in her match with Ivanovic, played on the hottest day of the tournament so far, the Serb saying she “ran out of gas” after a storming start to the match for her.

Oats apart, Safarova is known for being one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour, much of that due to her excellent doubles play and her Fed Cup team duties.

It’s an approach she says that comes natural to her in the sometimes heartless world of women’s top tennis.

“I think sport should be about fair play,” she said after the win over Ivanovic.

“I think people should be nice to each other. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports or in general.

“So that’s what I am trying to do, even here. And I think it’s a nice environment. I have a few good friends on tour. It’s not easy when you play them, but that’s life.”

Next up for Safarova, in what will be the match of her life, will be a match against 19-time grand slam champion Serena Williams.

The past should tell her to avoid Williams against whom she has a dismal 0-8 losing record.

But Safarova says she doesn’t mind too much.

“I mean Serena is No.1 in the world, great player,” Safarova said.

“So I will just go there and play my game and obviously try and get the trophy.”

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