No.2 seed Dominika Cibulkova played impeccable defense to dispatch No.5 seed Elena Vesnina and reach the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
WTA Staff

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - The second seed Dominika Cibulkova was made to work hard for a 6-3 6-3 victory over Elena Vesnina in their St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarterfinal.

The Slovak was outstanding on defence as the fifth seed hammered away at her serve, showcasing the powerful forehand that had proved too much for Alizé Cornet in the second round. In a match that featured nine breaks of serve, it was the unforced error count - 29-11 in Cibulkova's favour - that proved crucial as Vesnina sought to find a way through.

Cibulkova was broken three times in the match but said afterwards that she was not worried. "I am used to players breaking my serve," she said. "My serve is not of a top player or Ivo Karlovic. I am used to this. That's why return that well because I know I have to have something extra to break back.

"I think I was serving quite good today, [first serve] percentage was high [75%] but she really goes for the first balls. I didn't feel any problems on my serve today. It was still quite fine."

This was the eighth time the pair had met since 2008 and here the World No.5 levelled the head-to-head record at four each. She was comfortably beaten, 6-2 6-2, in their Wimbledon quarterfinal last year but here proved far more resilient to the Russian's booming serves.

The reigning BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion raced into a 4-1 lead in the first set with a double break of serve. However Vesnina fought back and, having already claimed one break back, found herself with a chance to break again at 4-3. Cibulkova ultimately held on and nabbed a third break to seal the set.

Vesnina brought more variety to the second set and was rewarded with a break in the very first game; however the World No.16 was unable to capitalise and Cibulkova took control to take the next four games on the spin.

Cibulkova was playing her second Quarterfinal of 2017, having reached this stage at the Brisbane international only to lose to Cornet, and this time advanced a stage further. Vesnina battled back to 4-3 with another break but the favourite took the next two games to advance to the last four.

"Today I was playing again really solid," said Cibulkova. "I was just focusing on the things I had to do. I had a little bit of a different tactic [against] Elena today but I was sticking to it. She's a really good player - in the second set she made my life a little bit tougher but I handled it and I'm pretty happy with my performance."