When former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova qualified at the last tournament of the year in Moscow, then swept through her round robin matches 3-0 at the WTA Finals, we thought we knew where the momentum was.
And when Dominika Cibulkova fell to 0-2 in round robin play, he thought we knew where that sat.
In the end, no one saw Cibulkova getting out of round robin play, much less raising the WTA Finals trophy as she did on Sunday after an inspired 6-3, 6-4 win over world No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
Kerber had previously beaten Cibulkova in their first round robin match.
“I was mentally very strong and I knew I played well in the first two matches, I was just a little bit unlucky,” Cibulkova said.
In the final the Slovak took the offensive whenever she could, eventually earning match point before the trouble started. She had trouble closing out the match until fate intervened and a net cord decided the match in her favor on her fourth match point.
“At the end I was lucky!” Cibulkova said afterwards. “I have no words, coming here for the first time, the biggest tournament of my life. I still don’t know how I won, I put the ball over the net and it went in — it’s the happiest moment of my life.”
The No. 8 seed in the eight-woman field, Cibulkova struck 28 winners to only 14 unforced errors against Kerber.
After an 0-2 start in round robin play she defeated Simona Halep in straight sets and the math fell her way to break a tie and put her into the semifinals. In the semis she stopped the red-hot Kuznetsova in three sets.
After becoming the first WTA Finals debut player to raise the trophy since Petra Kvitova in 2011, she will rise to a career-high No. 5 ranking. it was her fourth title of the year, and she improves to 8-10 in career finals.
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