Mon, Oct 24, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Cibulkova eyes her first career title

AFP, MOSCOW

Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia returns during her final match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia at the Tennis Kremlin Cup tournament in Moscow, Russia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Eighth seed Dominika Cibulkova was to face Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the Kremlin Cup final yesterday, as the diminutive Slovak attempts to secure her first career title.

The 22-year-old Cibulkova, the only seeded player remaining in the WTA field, defeated Elena Vesnina 6-0, 6-2 in one hour, five minutes to record her second win over the Russian in their fifth meeting.

Cibulkova, the world No. 20, will face Kanepi, who battled from a set down to beat Czech Lucie Safarova in a tough two hour, 30 minute match, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3.

“I’m really glad to clinch my second final spot in two weeks,” said Cibulkova, who finished runner-up in Linz. “I have had good form at the end of the season and I’m ready to play for the title. I was preparing myself for a tough battle as my previous three matches with Elena were tough three-setters. But I’m happy to win anyway.”

Cibulkova broke her opponent’s serve three times from the start to take the opening set to love in 23 minutes.

Vesnina, who advanced into the semis courtesy of a walkover from third-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, broke her rival’s serve twice in the second set.

Cibulkova replied with breaks on four occasions, winning the set, the match and her ticket to the final.

Cibulkova has been shut out in all of her previous three WTA finals.

Safarova, who had beaten Kanepi four straight times for a 4-1 overall career lead, started her last four clash nervously, allowing her 26-year-old opponent to break early for a 2-0 lead.

The Czech left-hander then won four consecutive games, but Kanepi managed to break back in the 10th game to level at 5-5. In the tiebreak, the more accurate Safarova clinched a one-set lead in 62 minutes.

Kanepi started the second set with an immediate break for a 2-0 lead, which she maintained to level at one set all after one hour, 45 minutes on court.

In the deciding set, Kanepi was more focused from the start, breaking Safarova’s serve twice for a 5-2 advantage.

The 24-year-old Czech reduced the arrears with a break in the eighth game, but Tallinn resident Kanepi broke again to secure a place in her first final of the season.

“I’m very happy to reach the final,” Kanepi said. “I already played Dominika [Cibulkova] on several occasions. She’s very strong opponent, but tomorrow I’m set to play at my best against her.”

In the ATP section of the tournament, defending champion Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, second seed, advanced into the final, beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4.

In the final Troicki will face top-seeded compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, who beat fourth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 7-5.

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