ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – It was a photo finish in the second round of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, but Dominika Cibulkova had an extra gear against former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, dispatching her rival, 6-4, 7-5.
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The Slovak unleashed her signature aggressive style for most of the match, hitting 36 winners to 26 errors throughout the nearly two-hour match, but Wozniacki wasn’t far behind with 19 winners to 21 errors, working her way back into the second set from 3-5 down and saving three match points before Cibulkova was able to close it out on serve.
“I think it was a really great match,” the 2014 Australian Open finalist told former WTA star turned on-court interviewer Ksenia Pervak. “It’s always tough to play Caroline. Today, I played really well; I was really aggressive even though I made some mistakes, I was really confident. I knew it was the only way I could beat her.
“In the end, I started having a problem with my arm, but it turned out really well, so I’m proud of how I stayed really tough mentally.”
The two have played since their junior days, with Wozniacki coming into the match with a 9-3 head-to-head advantage in WTA matches, but three out of their last four matches had gone the distance, including Cibulkova’s win over then-No.1 Wozniacki in the fourth round of Wimbledon back in 2011.
“The tactic was always the same against Caroline: be as aggressive as I can and go for my shots. She gets back so many balls and is waiting for your mistake; if you play shorter, she’s going for it. I had to be aggressive every single point, no matter the score.
“That’s what I did and that’s why I won.”
Up next for the former World No.10 is rising Russian Daria Kasatkina; the teenager reached another WTA quarterfinal when she eliminated lucky loser Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 6-4.
“I never saw her play, so it’s going to be another tough round. I’m just going to be focused and ready, and I’m just going to hope for another match like this.”
Earlier in the day, Timea Babos upset No.9 seed Monica Niculescu, recovering from a set down to win, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, while qualifier Kateryna Kozlova continued her dream run into the quarterfinals with another three-set win over wildcard Elena Vesnina, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The final match of the day was centered around home favorite and No.5 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, survived a tough second set to beat German youngster Carina Witthoeft, 6-1, 7-5.