Tuesday, November 12, 2019

With a superb career behind her, Dominika Cibulkova retires from professional tennis


I remember the first time I saw Dominika Cibulkova. It was early in her career, and she was playing in Charleston. Short in stature, Cibulkova nevertheless hit the ball very hard, and I found myself compelled to watch her as much as I could.

"Cibulova is small" was an often-repeated commentator's description of the Slovak player. But Cibulkova is not small--she's short, but with a muscular build, and exceptionally strong legs. She told me once that, early on, she knew that she would make it as a pro only if she concentrated on her core, and that's where her power came from.

Unfortunately, for a long time, Cibulkova experienced chronic fragility in her lower back and upper thigh, but eventually, she solved that problem.

Cibulkova won eight singles titles, including Eastbourne, Stanford and Moscow. She was a thirteen-time runner-up, and her finalist appearances included New Haven, Wuhan and Sydney. Most notable of her runner-up performances was the 2014 Australian Open, in which she lost to Li Na in the final. On her way to that final, Cibulkova defeated the likes of Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Aga Radwanska.

The Slovak star was a semifinalist at the French Open in 2009, and she was a three-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.

Perhaps Cibulkova's most memorable victory came in 2016, when she won the WTA Finals, defeating Angie Kerber in the final.

Cibulkova, who concentrated on singles play, won only one doubles title, and was twice a finalist. She was on the Slovak Fed Cup team for a total of eleven years, and ten of those were consecutive appearances. She was also on the Slovak Olympic team in 2008 and 2012.

Cibulkova reached a career-high ranking of number 4 in the world in 2017. She could be relentless with her hard-hitting baseline game, and she often appeared indefatigable as she forced her opponents to keep hitting one more ball until, finally, the error came. She had a keen focus on the court, and knew how to put maximum pressure on her opponents, and she was an exceptional retriever of the ball.

For the last several years, Cibulkova has been hampered by a recurring Achilles injury, so it was hardly a surprise that the 30-year Slovak decided to end her career. In announcing her retirement, Cibulkova also announced the publication of her memoir, Tennis Is My Life.

Cibulkova's fiery court presence, her confidence and her easy engagement with fans will be missed. From her gritty determination to her signature "Pome!," she added excitement to every match she played.

1 comment:

CLT said...

She was a one-dimensional player and not very interesting to watch.