Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei exited the second round of the Australian Open yesterday as diminutive Dominika Cibulkova kept her campaign on track as the sixth seed moved deeper into a tournament that has happy memories.
The 27-year-old Slovak, traveling under the radar, despite winning the WTA Finals in October last year, saw off Hsieh on Margaret Court Arena 6-4, 7-6 (10/8), winning on her fifth match point.
It set up a third-round clash against Russian 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova, who progressed after her opponent Sara Errani retired while losing 6-2, 3-2 with what appeared to be a leg injury.
If Cibulkova comes through that, dangerous ninth seed Johanna Konta or Caroline Wozniacki, a former world No. 1, could be next up.
“I had the match under control, but in the end she was hitting some great shots,” Cibulkova said. “I lost confidence a bit, but was trying to be really mentally there. I’m really happy to be in the third round, but my performance could be better.”
She said that she was approaching the year with the aim of being mentally strong as she challenges for a maiden Grand Slam title.
“That’s what I did today so I’m very happy,” she said.
Ranked six after her victory at the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, upsetting world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, Cibulkova has high hopes at Melbourne Park.
Voted the WTA Comeback Player of the Year last year, she has history at the Australian Open, making the final in 2014 only to lose to China’s Li Na before injuries derailed her career.
The energetic Slovak was always in charge on a hot Melbourne day, breaking in the sixth and 10th games to take control of the first set.
Cibulkova was playing some fantastic tennis and looked to be cruising through the second set before Hsieh broke in the ninth game.
Cibulkova, who owns her own sportswear and accessories line, with profits helping the needy in Slovakia, bounced straight back to set up a tiebreak, in which she held her nerve to seal the match.
In the first round of the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Chin-wei and Junri Namigata of Japan fell to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to Tatjana Maria of Germany and Pauline Parmentier of France in just 59 minutes.
Chan and Namigata failed to convert any of the seven break point they created, while Maria and Parmentier converted four of six.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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