Cibulkova Takes Out World No.1 Azarenka
Published June 03, 2012 12:00
PARIS, France - The last time they played she had the match on her racquet, blasting forehand winners from anywhere on the court and up 61 52 at one point. She couldn't seal the deal that time but this time did - Dominika Cibulkova beat World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round of the French Open.
Just like in their fourth round match at Miami in March, Cibulkova took the role of the aggressor, using her huge forehand - and some very sharp backhands - to take control of the majority of the rallies. And it was paying off in a big way for most of the match as the No.15-seeded Slovak built a hefty 62 42 lead.
For a quick moment though, she may have started having flashbacks from Miami, as that 4-2 second set lead became 4-all, and then 5-all, then 6-all...
"You can't be human if you weren't thinking about that," Cibulkova said. "Today the same thing happened: I got nervous. I wasn't going for my shots anymore.
"But I managed to get through these emotions. When she was 6-5 up I said, 'Hey, come on, you have to play your game and just make it.' And for the tie-break I'm very, very proud of myself that I was still going for my shots and that I made it, because she would never give me the match. I just made it."
Cibulkova ended up closing it out, 62 76(4), for her third career win over a reigning World No.1 - she beat Caroline Wozniacki twice last year.
"I think she plays much better against the top players than maybe a little bit lower-ranked players," Azarenka said. "She really has that desire. I don't know what motivates her to play that way. But she's a dangerous opponent - she has had big wins before, and it was no surprise she was playing that well today."
"I have never been in the Top 10, but I find it easier to play against them," Cibulkova said. "I'm showing all the time my game is good enough to be there and hopefully this year I'll make it. This tournament I'm playing well against everyone and I think I'm getting more mature and more tough mentally."
Azarenka wasn't so encouraged by the result. "I don't know how to describe my performance today. It wasnt satisfying at all, and I can't even find a positive about it," she said. "But it happens. It has been too little time since the match. Maybe in a few hours I'll find something I can be happy with about all of this.
"I'm just going to go on the practice court, practice again and improve."
Next up for Cibulkova is No.6 seed Sam Stosur, who won a tight two-setter with Sloane Stephens in the last match of the day, 75 64. Stephens came out firing, using her all-court game to build a 5-3 lead, but there was another all-court game waiting to burst out - Stosur won nine of the next 10 games to build a 75 51 lead, and although Stephens closed the gap somewhat, it was too late.
"She kind of caught me off guard," Stosur said. "I went down the break and got a little bit mad with myself and then recomposed. It was tough to come back from 5-3. That 5-all game was huge for both of us. Luckily I was the one who got through and was able to step it up and get on a little bit of a roll from that point."
"I was playing pretty well in the first set and had my chances - I served for the set, didn't serve it out," Stephens said. "I made a little comeback in the second set as well but couldn't make it. It was a weird one - but you learn from it.
"I've had such a good time here, though. And even though every day I've been saying, 'Man, I can't wait to get home to eat my grandpa's curry crab,' I don't want to leave. It's kind of bittersweet I'm going home. I had so much fun."
"It's going to be totally different," Stosur said. "She's had a couple of really good results here at Roland Garros in the past, and she's a player who has beaten Top 10 players before. It's one of those ones where I've got to be ready and expect a really tough match. She gets a lot of balls back; she moves quite well. I've definitely got to step up and be aggressive, but patient at the same time."