SINGAPORE - Dominika Cibulkova staged a thrilling fightback to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova and take her place in the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
In a week chock-full of dramatic moments, Cibulkova's grandstand finish on Saturday evening will take some beating, as she hauled herself back from the brink to triumph, 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
"At the end I was lying on the court and now I'm so excited. It's my first time here playing Finals and for me it's one of my dreams come true - it's just incredible," Cibulkova told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview.
"I just played my tennis. First set, she was really, really aggressive. I knew I had to change things because I needed to play my aggressive tennis. In the end I won because I was the more positive."
Having been blown away in the first set, Cibulkova displayed typical resolve to haul herself back into the contest. As the Russian's level dipped slightly, Cibulkova upped the intensity, earning her first break when Kuznetsova sent a routine volley long. While Cibulkova was unable to hang onto the advantage, the momentum had swung.
The set was decided on a tie-break, Cibulkova taking charge in a series of brutal rallies. A thumping drive volley brought up set point, which she converted by guiding a backhand past her forlorn opponent.
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Kuznetsova was not done, though, and when she produced a sublime lob to move 4-2 ahead in the third set the match appeared hers for the taking. Somehow Cibulkova roused herself for one final push, reeling off the next three games amidst a stream of winners.
Three more brought her to match point. Kuznetsova looked to have escaped when she dragged her opponent to the outer limits of the arena, only to be bamboozled when the reply flicked off the tape and beyond her reach.
Cibulkova, who is making her debut at the year-end Finals and only won one of her three round-robin matches, will now face World No.1 Angelique Kerber or defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska for the title.