Ekaterina Makarova backed up her Australian Open win against Dominika Cibulkova by beating the No.3 seed in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
WTA Staff

DUBAI, UAE - Ekaterina Makarova beat No.3 seed Dominika Cibulkova for the second time this year to reach the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

"It was such a great match, very tough and she's a tough opponent." said the Russian winner. "We just played at the Australian Open and it's the first time in nine years that I've won a match on the centre court, I'm so happy."

Makarova had won the most recent meeting between the pair in the third round of the 2017 Australian Open and she again made the better start, breaking the Slovak to love in the third game - a further break helping to seal a comfortable 6-2 opening set.

Cibulkova came into the match with no shortage of confidence having made the semifinals of last week's Qatar Total Open and her renowned fighting qualities were in evidence as she fought back to break early in the second set. Despite conceding the break back, she broke again at 5-4 and leveled the match as Makarova double faulted.

It was the fourth time in their last five meetings that a final set was required. The pair traded early breaks before Makarova broke again to wrestle the initiative, the 2015 Dubai quarterfinalist breaking twice more and winning the final six games.

"I started really well but I know that Domi is an unbelievable fighter and she's fighting until the end," added Makarova. "The second set was a little up and down and I tried to stay calm into the third set when I was losing 2-0 and it helped me this time, believing I could beat her. I was serving really well and, in the important moments, I hit good returns. When I'm staying close to the baseline, I play much more aggressive than when I'm staying back a little bit."

Defeat for Cibulkova breaks a run of two consecutive WTA Tour semifinals. Makaraova will play either Lauren Davis or Krystina Pliskova in the third round.