Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016 WTA TOUR FINALS: Cibulkova Shocks Kerber To Win Biggest Career Title

Defying the odds and most predictions, Dominika Cibulkova defeated World #1 Angelique Kerberb 6-3 6-4 playing fierce, high-quality tennis to win the WTA Tour finals, the biggest title title of her career (and over $2 million in prize money). The surprising result means that Cibulkova will end the year ranked World #5, her highest ranking ever. (She started the year ranked #38.)

Cibulkova became the second player (after last year's winner Agnieska Radwanska) to lose two matches en route to winning the title. The WTA Tour finals is only open to the Top 8 players of the year and thus employs a round-robin format (instead of the typical win-or-go-home rules). Cibulkova lost an epic 3-setter to Kerber in her first match, and then lost again in straight sets to Madison Keys. She had to win in straight sets against Simona Halep and hope that Kerber did not drop a set against Keys. Kerber obliged her (and won her first four matches), thus allowing Cibulkova to sneak into the semifinals. There Cibulkova played another intense 3-set match against Svetlana Kuznetsova, coming back from a set down and a break down in the final set to reach the biggest final since reaching the 2014 Australian Open final.

Cibulkova simply played her best tennis when it counted the most. She served at 84% and won 70% of her second serve points. She had twice as many winers as errors (28 to 14) and just kept on going for her strokes, outlasting Kerber's impeccable defense. Kerber didn't help her cause by not serving well (6 doublefaults) but in the end Cibulkova went out and won this match.

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