Cibulkova Clears Opening Hurdle In Moscow

Dominika Cibulkova made a successful start to her Kremlin Cup defense with a hard-fought win over Ekaterina Makarova.

Published October 16, 2012 02:44

Cibulkova Clears Opening Hurdle In Moscow
Dominika Cibulkova

MOSCOW, Russia - Dominika Cibulkova made a successful start to the defense of her Kremlin Cup title on Tuesday with a hard-fought win over Ekaterina Makarova in the first round.

Makarova, who honed her game as a teenager at the nearby Luzhniki Club, has always struggled at her home event, only once making it beyond the opening round. However, in the early stages, she appeared one step ahead of her opponent as Cibulkova struggled to find her range on the Olympic Stadium's newly laid courts.

Upon falling one set behind, though, Cibulkova's game belatedly began to click into gear; a decisive break in the 10th game of the second set saw her level the match up before she upped her level once again to race through the decider.

"The surface is completely different from last year so it took me some time to get into my rhythm," Cibulkova said after her 26 64 62 win. "It's much slower now and I think that's why I took some time to get my rhythm and had so many mis-hits in the first set.

"Gradually, I started hitting the ball better, moving better and feeling much more comfortable on the court, which meant I could be more aggressive and go for my shots."

In the second round, Cibulkova will face Tsvetana Pironkova, after she knocked out World No.21 Varvara Lepchenko, 60 76(3). Cibulkova has won all but one of her six meetings with Pironkova, although the sole defeat came in their most recent encounter, at this summer's Olympics.

"I've played her many times and the last time I lost to her at the Olympics," Cibulkova added. "But I also beat her many times, including once in Moscow, and I hope I can do the same tomorrow."

In the day's other match in the bottom half of the draw, Yaroslava Shvedova scored a surprisingly one-side win over Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Despite now representing Kazakhstan, Shvedova was born and raised in Moscow, and looked very much at home from the outset, breaking serve in the opening game of each set en route to a 62 62 win.

"It was a good match and I played very well, everything I tried to do was coming off and I was playing some unbelievable shots," Shvedova said. "I was very focused for the whole match and tried to play just one point at a time."

After the disappointment of Makarova and Pavlyuchenkova's premature exits, Nadia Petrova was hoping to bring some cheer to the home crowds with victory over Simona Halep. However, despite trailing by a set and a break, Halep fought back to stun the No.6 seed, 36 75 75.

"It's a disappointing. I didn't close the match in the second set," Petrova said. "Simona really hung in there. She was reaching unbelievable shots, shots I hit that I was sure were winners she would get back somehow. She got back that extra ball and that made it tough for me."

Halep's reward for her surprise win is a second round meeting with qualifier Vesna Dolonc, who overcame a slow start to knock out Galina Voskoboeva, 16 61 64.

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