Dominika Cibulkova is through to the final of a Premier Mandatory, the first of her career, on her birthday. Fate could not have been kinder to the Slovak, who reached her first final in the category on her 27th birthday after beating the young Louisa Chirico 6-1, 6-1, in a match in which she was firing on all cylinders.
“I’m really, really happy because I made it look easy, but it wasn’t. I dominated on the court and I was very strong mentally”, explained the finalist of the 2014 Australian Open.
The world number 38 took a tough route to the final of the Mutua Madrid Open. She defeated the number one seed and favourite to lift the trophy, Agnieszka Radwanska, in the first match. Her clash with the French Caroline Garcia proved key, with Cibulkova turning a 0-6, 0-3 on its head to come out victorious. From there, her performances kept getting better as she saw off Pavlyuchenkova and Cirstea, before ending Chirico’s dream on the verge of the final.
“I’ve worked really hard to get here. It’s a great final to be in. I know how to prepare myself, how I’ll feel and how to behave on court. It will be the same routine as all other matches”, explained Cibulkova, who awaits either Simona Halep or Samantha Stosur in the match for the title.
Halep: “Madrid is my favourite tournament”
The women’s final on Saturday at 6pm promises to be a nail-biter. On the other side of the net from Dominika Cibulkova will be the favourite for the title, Simona Halep, a finalist at the Mutua Madrid Open in 2014, where this year’s sixth seed lost to Maria Sharapova.
Halep brushed aside the challenge of Samantha Stosur on Manolo Santana on Friday night, winning 6-2, 6-0 in just 50 minutes and claiming 82 percent of points on her first serve.
“I’m really happy to be in the final,” Halep said in English court-side after her victory. “I love playing here. It’s my favourite tournament so I love doing well here.” She then thanked the crowd on centre court in Spanish: “Muchas gracias!”
Cibulkova holds a 3-1 career record over her opponent on Saturday but the players haven’t met since January 2014, before Halep’s meteoric rise up the rankings.