Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cibulkova to face Kvitova in Linz final

Dominika Cibulkova, who has yet to win a WTA title, will have another chance tomorrow when she plays in the Linz final against top seed Petra Kvitova. Cibulkova, the tournament's 7th seed, defeated Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals today.

Kvitova and 3rd seed Jelena Jankovic met for the first time in their careers in today's second semifinal, and what a meeting it was. Kvitova, who sometimes still has a tendency to go for too much too soon, knew that an in-form Jankovic would be dangerous, and the Czech player did more fine-tuning to her game, moving easily form side to side and also showing some of the net skills of her childhood idol, Martina Navratilova.

And it was an in-form Jankovic on the other side of the net. For most of the first two sets, Jankovic's signature defensive play and improved service game gave Kvitova all she could handle. Jankovic won the first set 6-4, but lost the second, despite leading 3-1. The final part of the set was as tension-filled as spectators could have hoped for. Kvitova won six straight games and went up 3-0 in the third set, but Jankovic--who looked frustrated and confused by her opponent's run of stinging winner--rose to the occasion and turned the match back into a contest. When Kvitova served for the match, she went down 0-30, then had a break point against her, but she held for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Both Kvitova and Jankovic had wild cards, and how lucky for the crowd that they did. The only weakness in the match was the failure by either woman to do much with her second serve. But that can be overlooked, considering that this semifinal had just about everything else to make it great--superb shot-making, thrilling defense, exciting rallies, and, of course, some humor. Not that I needed to be reminded, but this match made it abundantly clear why I'm such a fan of both players. 

I expect the final to be a good one. Kvitova has a 3-0 record against Cibulkova.

The doubles final will feature 4th seeeds Marina Erakovic and Elena Vesnina against Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.


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