Cibulkova, Hercog win WTA tournaments
Dominika Cibulkova won her second career title when she romped to a routine 6-1 7-5 victory over top seed Marion Bartoli to win the Carlsbad Open.
In an impressive display from behind the baseline, the second seeded Slovakian was quicker around the court than her French opponent, rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to record a morale-boosting victory ahead of the Olympics.
"In past finals I was too nervous and this was first final I was just going for it," the 23-year-old Cibulkova said after outlasting Bartoli, who had eked out three-set wins over her last three opponents to reach the final.
Cibulkova came out with all guns blazing and after dropping the opening game of the match, she swarmed all over the Frenchwoman, dictating proceedings with her big forehand and jumping on Bartoli's second serves.
She won the first set when Bartoli double faulted, and grabbed the opening game of the second set before the top seed began a charge, winning four straight games by moving further inside the court and finding the corners.
However, Cibulkova refused to succumb to the cautious approach that had hindered her in previous finals and clawed her way back into the contest when she broke Bartoli in the eighth game with a vicious forehand winner.
The diminutive Slovakian carried the momentum forward and captured the title when she forced Bartoli into a forehand error.
"It was a really important game at 4-3 on her serve where there was this was this long rally which I finished with this forehand down the line," Cibulkova said. “And I was like 'okay, this set is going to be mine'."
Bartoli had taken eight hours and 18 minutes to win her first three matches and towards the end of the second set, her legs began to look heavy.
"I think the toughest part for me was to play three matches at night and then come to the day session, which is obviously different," she said.
"I played well to get the lead in the second and get to 4-1 but from then on, I started to feel a bit tired and was not moving so quickly. But she played very fast and extremely well, so she made me feel uncomfortable as well."
By contrast, the sprightly Cibulkova won the tournament without dropping a set and will rise to number 13 in the rankings when they are released on Monday, one place lower than her career high.
"I was enjoying the final. So I didn't put so much pressure on myself and when it was 6-5, I just said 'come on, risk it'."
Cibulkova, who captured her maiden title in Moscow last November, has one week to prepare for the London Olympics tennis tournament starting on July 28, a day after the opening ceremony.
Meanwhile Polona Hercog successfully defended her Swedish Open title in Bastad with a comeback 0-6 6-4 7-5 win over Mathilde Johansson.
The Slovenian recovered from a first set where she could barely a get a ball in play to secure a solid second set before racing out to a 5-1 lead in the third.
But the drama was far from over as she allowed Johansson back into the match with a lapse in concentration that saw her lose four straight games.
Hercog stopped the run of games against her just in time however, breaking in the 11th game before serving out the match.
“Sometimes nerves kick in too much,” she said. “But I’m really glad that I managed to calm myself down in the last two games.”