ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Dominika Cibulkova booked a second round clash with St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy defending champion Kristina Mladenovic after a decisive win over Sorana Cirstea, 7-5, 6-2.
Cirstea had only beaten Cibulkova once in five previous meetings, but had taken the opening set when last they played at the 2016 Mutua Madird Open, and enjoyed a similarly strong start in Sibur Arena.
Trailing 0-4 to start the match, the former BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion went on a tear after a few close games, winning 10 of the next 11 to turn the tide and ultimately secure victory in 89 minutes.
"I didn’t panic in the beginning," she said during her on-court interview. "It’s my first match on this court. Every week and every day is different, so I’m pretty happy with my performance. I started slowly, but I kept playing better and better."
Cibulkova is making her third appearance in St. Petersburg, having never finished earlier than the quarterfinals and reaching the final four at this event last February. With husband Miso Navara enthusiastically taking in the action from the stands, Cibulkova struck 18 winners to 20 unforced errors and broke serve five times, including the final game.
Awaiting the Slovak in the second round is No.4 seed Mladenovic, who aims to reverse a 15-match losing streak at the site of her career breakthrough; the Frenchwoman beat Venus Williams en route to her maiden WTA title in St. Petersburg, posting further final appearances at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and Mutua Madrid Open.
"I haven’t played her for a while, so it’ll be a good match. She won here last year, so she likes to play here, but I also like to play indoors!"
More to come...