Dominika Cibulkova toughed out a close first set then went on maximum overdrive in the second set to get past Sorana Cirstea and reach the final of the Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford.
WTA Staff

STANFORD, CA, USA - Dominika Cibulkova survived a tight first set then rolled over Sorana Cirstea to reach her eighth WTA final - and sixth at the Premier level - at the Bank Of The West Classic.

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The two hard-hitters came out firing early on, No.5 seed Cirstea blasting three aces in her opening service game and No.3 seed Cibulkova not giving much ground on her serve either - but as it often goes, the match was cracked open in the seventh game as Cibulkova got the first break of the match, riding it en route to winning the first set then cruising through the second set to wrap it up, 64 60.

The most telling stat of the day was probably the contrast in success on break points - Cibulkova took her chances, going 4-for-10, while Cirstea was completely blanked in the match, going 0-for-6.

"I have to say it was a really good match from my side today," Cibulkova said. "The first set was really close - Sorana was playing really well in that set. The turning point was the 4-3 game, when I held serve for 5-3 after a really long game and saved all those break points. And the only break point I had in the first set I made - so today all of the small things really made a difference for the match.

"In the second set I just kept my level, and maybe she wanted to go for more, but it wasn't really working. So it was a great match for me today and I'm really happy to be in the final here now."

"It was a tough match today - Dominika played really, really well," Cirstea said. "The first set was the key. We had a really long game at 4-3 and she won it, and after that I dropped my level a little bit and she stepped it up. It wasn't the best match for me, but she definitely deserved to win today."

Cibulkova is now through to the eighth WTA final of her career, going 2-5 in her first seven of those - she is a cleaner 2-3 in Premier-level finals though, capturing titles at Moscow in 2011 and Carlsbad in 2012 and finishing runner-up at Amelia Island and Montréal in 2008 and at Sydney earlier this year.

"I had some very good preparation for the summer hardcourt season after Wimbledon, and I'm full of energy right now, and that's what I want to keep all the way until the US Open," Cibulkova said. "But first I'm really focused on the final tomorrow. It's always nice to be in a final of any tournament.

"I don't know my opponent yet, but whoever it is, I'll go out there and do my best."

Cibulkova's final opponent was determined later in the day - the No.1 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. Radwanska has beaten Cibulkova in all four of their previous meetings, including a 60 60 win in their last meeting, in the final of Sydney earlier this year. That was the first 60 60 WTA final since 2006, when Marion Bartoli defeated Olga Puchkova without losing a game in the Québec City final.

"So much of tennis is what you do mentally, and if you saw that match you wouldn't believe it could be that score," Cibulkova said of that Sydney encounter. "The first six or seven games of that match I had break point or game point and just couldn't make any of them. Then I was down 60 30 and was just thinking one thing, just to make one game, and it didn't end up happening. It was really bad."