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Re: 2007 off season (news, interviews, photos)

From this week's New Idea magazine (please keep in mind this is one of "those" weekly women's magazine:p)

Game of Love

Young Czech tennis stars Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova are soulmates on and off the court.

The ultimate love match between tennis aces Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova gives the young couple the best of both worlds as they face all the hefty demands of their sport. These lovers from the Czech Republic found their prize-each other-five years ago while training in their hometown of Prostejov.

Now, as they both make headline appearances in the 2008 Australian Open and contest a grueling 10-month-a-year professional tennis circuit, the childhood sweethearts have the perfect support system.

"It's an advantage to be together on tour," Lucie says. "The other players are the only people who know what you're going through, so to have your partner there's great."

Tomas, 22, and Lucie, 20, are both rising through the world tennis ranks, and joke that they can get competitive comparing their careers. But they admit to feeling each other's successes and disappointments.

"When Lucie has a good result it's exciting for me," Tomas says. "I know how hard she works and what she's gone through, and she supports me in the same way."

Tomas and Lucie say that despite their high-pressure lifestyles, they never fight. While tennis partners can often be fixtures courtside, such as Lleyton Hewitt's wife Bec, the gorgeous Czech duo are often playing simultaneously on neighbouring courts.

Growing up in Prostejov, a town of about 50,000 people in the country's east, Tomas says their tennis community was tight-knit. Both players studied through an equivalent of home-schooling, so they made their friends while playing sport.

"It's not a very big town and there aren't that many people playing tennis, so we knew of each other very early on," Tomas says.

"We know the key to a great relationship is communication, and we have no problem there."

For Tomas, ranked 14th in the world, 2008 is tipped as the year he'll win a grand slam title. Left-handed Lucie, 23rd in the women's tennis ranks, is constantly improving and a feared underdog against more glamorous top-ranking opponents.

Lucie derailed Alicia Molik's comeback hopes in Sydney recently with a two-set victory against her-and has high hopes for the Australian Open.

"At the moment, tennis is our life. It's our career and number-one priority," Lucie says. "But we can separate our career from our personal life- you have to."

As for the inevitable sound of wedding bells, Tomas and Lucie agree there's plenty of time for that. "For us, marriage wouldn't change anything," Lucie says.
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