Cibulkova Hopes For Breakthrough In Linz
Published October 15, 2011 12:00
LINZ, Austria - Dominika Cibulkova is one of only two players in the Top 30 without a WTA title but will have a chance to shake that tag on Sunday, as she battles Petra Kvitova for the International-level Generali Ladies Linz crown.
Having come back from a set down in her first three matches of the tournament - including saving match points in her opener - the No.7-seeded Cibulkova took just an hour and 15 minutes to cruise to a 61 64 semifinal victory over Lucie Safarova. She won 16 points in a row to run away with the first set; she got the first break of the second set at 4-all, then served the match out at love.
"Lucie's the kind of player who really goes for her shots. I'm happy I didn't wait for her to do that and was really focused from the beginning to the end," Cibulkova said. "My first, second and third matches this week were very tough, but my game was getting better and better every round. I lost early the other times I played here - I've never played so well here in Linz. It feels good."
Ranked No.23, Cibulkova is the second-highest-ranked player on the WTA without a WTA title, after No.16-ranked Peng Shuai. Cibulkova is 0-2 in WTA finals, both coming in 2008 (losing to Maria Sharapova in the Amelia Island final and to Dinara Safina in the Montréal final). Peng is 0-4 in WTA finals.
"It's the last two tournaments of the year and I have nothing to lose now," Cibulkova said. "I'm still waiting for my first WTA title. I'd be really happy if it comes here - we're really close to my hometown of Bratislava, and many of my friends and family are here this week watching me. I've enjoyed this week."
Awaiting the Slovak No.1 in the final will be No.1 seed Kvitova, who rallied from 64 31 down to beat No.3 seed Jelena Jankovic in the pair's first meeting, 46 64 63. Although rallying from 1-3 to 3-3 in the second set kept her in the match, Kvitova truly took control of the duel with a six game streak from 3-4, taking the second set and going up 3-0 in the third. The Czech didn't look back.
"We were playing for the first time so I didn't really know her game so well," Kvitova said. "She was No.1 so I knew it would be hard. After the first set I had to check my game - I was making too many mistakes. So I started to play in the court more and it was a big relief to win. I'm so tired now though."
Kvitova, who set a new career-high ranking of No.4 this week, is 5-2 in her career in WTA finals. She won her first WTA title in 2009 (Hobart) and has won another four this year (Brisbane, Paris [Indoors], Madrid and Wimbledon). She is second to Caroline Wozniacki in WTA titles this year (Wozniacki has six).
Kvitova has won all three of her previous meetings with Cibulkova, all of them coming in 2011. She won their first two routinely in straight sets but in their third meeting went the distance to defeat Cibulkova in Madrid.
"We're friends so we know each other pretty well," Kvitova said. "The last time we played I won 7-5 in the third set but that was on clay, and the other times were on hardcourt. I hope it will be shorter like those matches. But in the end it doesn't matter - even if I have to play three hours, if I win it's okay."