CARLSBAD, California (AFP) –
Second seed Dominika Cibulkova beat the heat to reach the final of the WTA hardcourt tournament, outlasting tiring Russian Nadia Petrova 7-6 (10/8), 6-1.
The Slovak ‘pocket rocket,’ who stands just 1.61 meters (5 feet, three inches), on Saturday played a big match to impose her game on Petrova, who was attended by the trainer after losing the draining, 63-minute opening set.
She then stormed through the second set, wrapping up the victory in just over 90 minutes.
“I’m pretty sure that the tiebreak was the key to why I won the match,” Cibulkova said. “After that, she went down a little bit.”
Bartoli went into their evening semi-final after struggling in her last two matches — both three-setters — and has been dealing with a leg injury.
Cibulkova hasn’t been taken to three sets this week, a fitness advantage which she hopes will stand her in good stead in the title match.
“I feel really fresh and good. I didn’t have a three-set match and all the other girls, they played crazy long matches. So I’m feeling really good for tomorrow, and I think it can be my advantage for me.”
She recovered from an early break to force the first-set tiebreaker with a break in the 12th game.
Petrova raced to a 4-0 lead in the decider, but she was slowly pegged back by her persistent opponent.
Cibulkova, thriving as Petrova faded, saved a set point and finally sealed the set on her third opportunity when Petrova sent a tired backhand out.
“When she was up 4-0 I just said to myself, ‘I don’t want to give it up. I just want to make it as tough as I can for her,’” said the winner. “I fought for every ball.”