Last week’s Linz final kept Dominika Cibulkova’s five-year long career in the main draws of WTA tournaments dry of WTA titles after three finals, but just a week later the Slovakian changed that at the Premier-level Kremlin Cup. In her last three matches of the tournament, the world No.20 Cibulkova defeated players against whom she had negative head-to-head records – top seed Vera Zvonareva, Elena Vesnina and Kaia Kanepi. Now only Peng Shuai is a Top 20 player without a title to her name.
This is the best feeling I’ve ever had. It’s the best day for me.
As seed No.8 Cibulkova was favorite on paper, but her opponent entered the final with a 2-0 record against her and with victories over two Grand Slam champions in the earlier matches – over Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Also, the 43rd-ranked Kanepi might have had less pressure, having added a title to her biography (last year in Palermo).
Kanepi was in charge at the start, winning the first set 6-3. The Estonian kept her serve throughout the second set and even had the victory at her grasp, but a bit of luck helped Cibulkova force a tiebreak, which she won 7-1. A string of breaks followed from 3-3 in the third set, and the 22-year-old Cibulkova was the first to hold her serve to win the match 3-6 7-6(1) 7-5 and $118,500 after two hours and 36 minutes.