ROME, Italy - Ekaterina Makarova came back from losing a near-shutout first set to take down No.4 seed Dominika Cibulkova in a three set thriller at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Makarova and Cibulkova have played twice already this year, with both encounters going the distance to and both matches won by the Russian. This one followed the script as Makarova took down Cibulkova 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
A Makarova victory looked far away in the opening set, though, as she found herself getting shut out by an inspired Cibulkova in the early exchanges.
She had few answers to Cibulkova’s relentless aggression as the Slovak found the lines time and again and made just two unforced errors in the first set. Cibulkova reeled off five games in a row to wrap up the first tilt in just 33 minutes.
The second set was a mirror image of the first; Makarova roared to life to turn the tables on Cibulkova, chasing down every ball and taking time away from her opponent by aggressively finishing points inside the court. She gave Cibulkova a taste of her own medicine, reeling off five straight games of her own to send the match to a third set.
After opening with a break to the Cibulkova serve, the pair stayed deadlocked in the final set until a pivotal seventh game saw Makarova strike two double faults - and handing Cibulkova a break point - but the Russian manage to hang on to her serve, stopping a run of four breaks in a row.
With her eyes on the finish line, Makarova calmly broke once more to win the match after an hour and 49 minutes. She advances to the round of 16, where she’ll take on the in-form Kiki Bertens for a spot in the quarterfinals.
More to follow…