After a stuttering start to the campaign, Giorgi has really come into her own in recent months, upsetting Maria Sharapova during a fourth round run at Indian Wells and reaching her maiden WTA final in Katowice. The Italian has an aggressive game that belies her slight frame and, as she showed against Sharapova, also has the temperament to deliver on the big occasion. Cibulkova arrived in Rome with plenty of wins under her belt, although none yet on clay, having lost to Samantha Stosur early in Madrid.
The Turning Point
Despite the miserable morning in the Italian capital, it was standing room only on Pietrangeli for the arrival of Giorgi and she did not disappoint, outhitting and outplaying her higher-ranked opponent from the outset. The Italian's high-risk strategy had Cibulkova scrambling to all corners of the court and for an hour and a half it looked like it would bring her a relatively comfortable victory.
However, with the finishing line in sight, Giorgi tightened up. Serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, a flurry of unforced errors threw Cibulkova an unexpected lifeline. When she then framed a backhand long on match point a few games later, the crowd began to fear the worst. Their fears, though, proved unfounded, as their compatriot rose to the occasion in style, closing out an nerveless tie-break with a succession a pin-point winners.
By The Numbers
It is not often that Cibulkova plays second fiddle in terms of shotmaking, but she had no choice at the Foro Italico, with Giorgi striking 31 winners in their two hours on court.