Eastbourne, UK: Dominika Cibulkova is one victory away from her first grass-court title after she powered through two matches in a matter of hours to reach the final of the WTA Eastbourne event yesterday.
The Slovak began her day by turning around a deficit of a set and a break from a rainy Thursday night to beat top seed Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
She then had just a few hours for an ice bath and lunch before warming up again for her semi-final, where she hammered Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig 6-2, 6-1 in 72 minutes.
In today’s final Cibulkova will face Czech 10th seed Karolina Pliskova, who fired a dozen aces for a 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3 win over British 11th seed Johanna Konta.
Konta, a source of attention all week for the local media, ran out of puff and did not benefit from a pair of sliding falls on the grass which may have shaken her confidence.
Cibulkova will be playing her fourth final of the season and bidding for a second title of 2016 after winning in Katowice in April.
She beat Pliskova in a 2014 semi-final in Kuala Lumpur.
The Slovak, who had an Achilles tendon operation last year and almost fell out of the top 50, is playing Eastbourne – a traditional Wimbledon tune-up – for only the second time.
“This is my best day ever on a grass court. I’m extremely happy,” said Cibulkova, a former Australian Open runner-up.
“I’m playing really well and got confidence from beating Aga in the first match. The match with Monica was completely different, another style.
“But I was able to win and I’m happy. We will see about the final, This will be my first final on grass so I’m really satisfied. I couldn’t wish for a better week.”
Cibulkova trailed 6-4, 3-2 to Radwanska when their quarter-final was forced off court. Sunshine and a stiff wind presented fresh challenges as Cibulkova advanced yesterday.