MELBOURNE, Australia - With a barrage of winners off of both wings, Dominika Cibulkova completely overpowered Agnieszka Radwanska in the second semifinal of the Australian Open, not just reaching her first Grand Slam final, but becoming the first female representing Slovakia to reach one.
Going into the match Radwanska seemed to have the upper hand - she had won five of the pair's six career meetings, she had been to more Grand Slam semifinals, and she was coming off a massive upset of the two-time defending champion. But Cibulkova had different ideas - very different ideas - and from the beginning she unleashed huge forehand after huge forehand, storming out to a 61 40 lead.
The No.5-seeded Radwanska began sinking her teeth into the match from there, winning the next two games to close in to 61 42, but the No.20-seeded Cibulkova didn't stumble at all, closing it out, 61 62.
The numbers from the match tell the story - Cibulkova kept hers positive, 21 winners to 20 unforced errors, while Radwanska was uncharacteristically erratic, with 12 winners and 24 unforced errors.
Cibulkova said she wasn't thinking of the chance of reaching a Grand Slam final during the match.
"Not at all. I wasn't thinking about that for the whole match," Cibulkova said. "I was just trying to focus on my game. From the first point to the last point I was just trying to do all of the right things.
"Of course it was not easy when I was up in the second set. The thought started to come into my head that I could win, and the result and everything else. But I have to say I was 100% ready for it."
The Slovak also drew inspiration from one of her best friends - Marion Bartoli, a major player herself.
"She was a big inspiration," Cibulkova said. "We are very close friends, she's one of my best friends, and I knew she was working so hard for it, and she really was the one who deserved it so much.
"When she won Wimbledon I knew everything is possible."
Bartoli has actually been in Melbourne this fortnight. "Straight after my semifinal she came into the gym to see me," Cibulkova said. "She hugged me, and we were both crying. She was so happy for me."
"Of course I wanted to win today," Radwanska said afterwards. "It's very disappointing, especially since I didn't play a Top 5 player, but it's a little different as well, since I think she's having one of the best tournaments of her career. But the semifinals of a Grand Slam is still a good result.
"So I cannot complain about that, but of course you want even more."