Monday, 31 October 2016

Domi - nation in Singapore

The finalists in the WTA Finals in Singapore arrived there in wildly contrasting styles.  World number one and twice Grand Slam title winner in 2016, Angelique Kerber, thrashed Agnieszka Radwanska in one semi final to remain undefeated after her four matches.
Dominika Cibulkova scraped into her semi final against Svetlana Kuznetsova on a count back, having won only one of her three round robin matches.  It was the second set that she took off Kerber in her first match loss which won her the semi final spot, and enabled her to eventually prevail in an epic three setter against the Russian, Sveta's fourth match in succession to go the distance.

So the final match of this exciting week would see the same two combatants as the very first match, with Kerber clearly the hot favourite to put the perfect finishing touches to a golden year.

Angie expected a tough contest, but she, along with just about everyone watching, was not prepared for the Domi domination which occurred.  The Slovakian pocket rocket was relentless from the start, aggressive as she knew she would need to be, and her serve was out of this world - the first serve % was 85 in the opening set.

She was broken once in the first set, but it didn't worry her in the slightest as she played to her strengths, using pace, angles, placement and power to continually pressure the Kerber serve.  Of the 10 second serves delivered by the top seed, 7 points were won by Cibulkova.  Little wonder the seventh seed broke twice to take the set and lead 6-3.

Angie appeared to settle in the early stages of set two, and by serving first, would put pressure on Domi to play catch up on the scoreboard.  However, this was of marginal concern as the Slovakian shot making continued to be fluent and attacking, made possible by the remarkable first serve statistics.
At 3-3 it was Kerber who cracked first, and Cibulkova led 6-3 4-3 with a serve to come.  The upset was now more than a possibility.  When 5-3 arrived in the blink of an eye, Angie had to hold serve to remain in the match.
Of course she isn't the world's top player for nothing and she ensured that Domi would have to serve out the tournament.

All was falling into place for Cibulkova, and at 40-15 she had two points for her most significant career win.  Then some drama - a double fault and an unforced error.  Then a break point which was saved.  A third match point was blown with an easy shot missed.  Another break point was saved.  Finally on the fourth match point, a friendly net cord presented Dominika Cibulkova with a 6-3 6-4 victory, the WTA Finals title and Billy Jean King Trophy, and a year end career high ranking of 5 in the world.
28 winners in a performance worthy of all the accolades coming her way.

Not bad from a starting point of 38 in January after an injury ravaged 2015.
Still for Angie Kerber she can be happy in the knowledge that she is Player of the Year by any measure.

In other news, Andy Murray won the Vienna title, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final, while Marin Cilic took out the Basel tournament, Kei Nishikori the runner-up there.

The final ATP Masters title is up for grabs this coming week in Paris, and the number one ranking is on the line.

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