The 10th edition of Tennis Champions Exhibition was dedicated to Daniela Hantuchova, who announced her retirement from professional tennis earlier this year. Her three guests were Kim Clijsters, Tommy Haas and Slovak Davis Cup hero Dominik Hrbaty. Additional guests included winning Slovak Fed Cup Team of 2002, various hockey players, Daniela’s colleagues from Slovak edition of Dancing with the Stars and Daniela’s childhood hero Miloslav Mecir. The sold out arena also saw very special appearance of the President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska.
Slovak Fed Cup Team Played the 2017 Fed Cup World Group Play Off Tiea against Team Netherlands on April 22. – 23. Due to the injury of Dominika Cibulkova, the Dutch led by World No. 20 Kiki Bertens were a favorite of this match. In the end, Bertens and Richel Hogenkamp managed to secure 3 necessary points. Netherlands won the tie 3:2 and advanced to the 2018 Fed Cup World Group 1.
Prior to Sunday’s matches, Daniela Hantuchova received Fed Cup Commitment Award as the first female tennis player from Slovakia. It is awarded to players who have shown long-standing dedication to Fed Cup competition and played a minimum of 20 World Group ties or 40 ties at any level of the competition over the career. Daniela has been playing in Fed Cup since 1999 and she led the Slovak team to Fed Cup Victory in 2002.
First two weeks of february 2014 were all about tennis. Both Slovak Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams hosted their oponents in Bratislava. The women’s Fed Cup World Group 1 tie against Germany was certainly more prestigious one. Both teams had some amazing players in their line-ups. Team Slovakia consisted of 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, two-times Fed Cup Heart Award winner Daniela Hantuchova, Magdalena Rybarikova and Jana Cepelova. The Germans arrived with World No. 9 Angelique Kerber, former Top 10 member Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges and doubles specialist Anna-Lena Groenefeld. The Germans were supposed to be even stronger, but Wimbledon 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki was not able to play due to injury.
Although the Germans won the tie 3:1, the matches were very close. In the opening match, Dominika Cibulkova won the first set against Andrea Petkovic 6:2. In second set tie-break, Dominika was trailing 1:6, managed to come back and lead 7:6, but Petkovic managed to win both tie-break and the match. Daniela Hantuchova then lost her match to German No. 1 Angelique Kerber in two sets. The first set was decided in tie-break and Angelique Kerber needed 11 points to secure the first set.
The Sunday’s battle of the leaders was again decided in tie-break. Angelique Kerber managed to win against Dominika Cibulkova 6:3, 7:6 and the German team advanced to the Fed Cup World Group 1 Semifinals. In the last match of the tie, Magdalena Rybarikova and Jana Cepelova secured the only Slovak point after a three set victory over Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Luck was certainly on the German side this time, maybe because they played like a team, did their pre-match ritual like a team and celebrated the victory like a team.
Andrea Petkovic defeated Dominika Cibulkova 2:6, 7:6, 6:2
Angelique Kerber defeated Daniela Hantuchova 7:6, 6:1
Angelique Kerber defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6:3, 7:6
Magdalena Rybarikova, Jana Cepelova defeated Julia Goerges, Anna-Lena Groenefeld 4:6, 6:3, 10:7
Some of my favorite photos from the weekend are below (click on the photo to see slightly larger version).
Yesterday, I attended the 6th annual Tennis Classic Exhibition in Bratislava. This year’s participants were the former leader of WTA Ranking Martina Hingis from Switzerland, the French ATP tennis players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils and the Slovak tennis star Daniela Hantuchova.
Because of the odd choice of lighting, I gave it a nick name “The Twilight Edition”. The lights were a lot dimmer than usual and they also used various colored spotlights. This created an intimate and visually interesting atmosphere for the fans, but it was a nightmare to shoot it due to darkness, changing lights and changing white balance.
The exhibition consisted of three matches and a charity auction. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils played the first singles match. Tsonga won the match in three sets. Daniela Hantuchova and Martina Hingis then played the short singles game. Hingis won the match 11:9. The traditional auction took place during the intermission. All players donated their autographed racquets, apparel and various other prices. The proceedings will support various charitable causes.
The mixed doubles was the last match of the exhibition. Even though Daniela and Martina started with their chosen partners, they ended up playing together and won the match. During the match, all players had microphones on them. I must say I’m not a fan of this “feature”. A lot of times, the words players say are pretty much inaudible. Two years ago, all the talking was downright annoying. This year it was surprisingly natural and it wasn’t very distracting. The hightlight of the mixed doubles was Daniela Hantuchova playing the piano.
My favorite photos from the event are below (click on the photos to see larger versions) and the whole gallery can be seen on my Slovak blog: http://hutera.blog.sme.sk/c/343916/Tennis-Classic-2013.html.
This weekend, the first round of 2013 edition of Fed Cup (the most prestigious women’s team competition in tennis) will take place all over the world. I decited to dedicate a few photos to the player that started it all for me. Eleven years ago I watched Daniela Hantuchova in a nerve-wrecking final match against Conchita Martinez of Spain. I became a fan and dreamed that once I’ll be able to photograph such an event. We’ve been waiting for another title ever since. But over the years, I’ve been able to take some nice photos of Daniela in various Fed Cup ties. Good luck against Serbia this weekend!