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Sorana Cirstea's Secret Weapon

Sorana Cirstea reached the biggest final of her career last week in Toronto thanks to some exceptional tennis and a little help from a member of the ESPN commentary team.

Published August 13, 2013 12:00

Sorana Cirstea's Secret Weapon
Sorana Cirstea

While last week's Rogers Cup may have ended with the familiar sight of Serena Williams lifting the trophy, there was one storyline at the Rexall Centre that was anything but predictable.

At the start of the tournament, Sorana Cirstea would not have been among many people's picks for a potential finalist, but as she negotiated her way through a treacherous bottom half of the draw she slowly made believers of even the most doubting of Thomases.

Cirstea's fairytale run saw her account for two former No.1s and two Grand Slam champions before Serena Williams put an abrupt halt to it in the final.

As well as the Romanian played, though, she was self-effacing enough to admit that she received a little bit of help along the way.

Trailing by a set in her quarterfinal with Petra Kvitova, Cirstea summoned stand-in coach Darren Cahill to the court for some words of inspiration. Cahill did not disappoint.

"He came at 4-3 in the second set, and he pointed at a little girl in the stand and said, 'Where does she want to be?'" Cirstea recounted. "I said, 'Here in my place playing.' So he said, 'Okay, so that's why you are here. That's why you have been doing all the work. That's why you have been sacrificing everything for these moments. There is no other place in the world where you'd rather be.'"

Fomer US Open semifinalist Cahill's mid-match pep talk certainly did the trick, as Cirstea bounced back to take the second before racing through the decider.

"That speech had nothing to do with tennis. It was just motivational," she added. "From then on, I was like, 'That's it.' I took the pressure off my shoulders. I'm here to play, here to enjoy. I'm here to give my best.

If she's better than me, she's going to beat me, but I'm not going to give it to her. I'm going to fight until the last point. I have to give a lot of credit to Darren for that. He was amazing."

And Cahill was not the only source of motivation in Cirstea's corner in Toronto.

"There was incredible atmosphere and it made me feel like home," she said. "I was surprised to see so many Romanians and how many flags were out there. It seemed almost everyone was wearing yellow t shirts!

"The whole time they were so loud and supportive and saying positive things to keep me going. It was very, very nice to see, and I'm very grateful for their support.

"I'm looking forward to come back here, because it's been an amazing week. Hopefully I can keep this going for the rest of the year."

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