SINGAPORE - New WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova is about to step up into the Top 5 - and for the first time in her career, she genuinely feels she belongs there.
"Right now I don't doubt myself anymore," she enthused in her post-match press conference after she had beaten Angelique Kerber to win the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. "I mean, I don't doubt myself this year at all.
"I always had my coach to motivate me, to put the bigger goals for me. I think that was my - not problem, but something I was dealing with. I never saw myself as such a great player - you know, consistent player, somebody who could be Top 5."
She revealed that her coach had told her over the summer that if she was consistent in the second half of the season, she would be able to reach the Top 5 by year's end.
"And I really, really believed him for the first time in my life," she explained. "I believed, 'OK, this is something I can do, I want to do.'
"I'm not saying I was coming to this tournament to win it, but when I was so close before the Finals, I was convinced that I can beat Angie today."
And with her success in Singapore, she will now finish the year at a career-high No.5 - a far cry from where she was at the start of the season, ranked No.66 after ankle surgery ruled her out of action for a few months last year.
Now she will head to Melbourne with a newfound belief that she can be a contender - and with fond memories of making the Australian Open final in 2014.
"I see the next season for me like another challenge," she added. "I really want to do more, now I believe in myself that I can really be even better than this."