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Cibulkova moves past Vesnina in Sydney

SYDNEY, Australia - Dominika Cibulkova booked her place in the Apia International Sydney by beating WTA World No.19 Elena Vesnina in straight sets.

The Slovak overcame the deficit of an early break in the first set to show more consistency than her opponents and won, 6-4, 6-4.

Playing in her first tournament since September, Cibulkova's year started with a bang as she ousted No.8 seed Anastasija Sevastova in the first round and admitted that a long offseason break has given her fresh impetus for the new year.
“After Beijing, I skipped everything. I didn't play tennis for 10 weeks. I had to do it, to realise I still wanted to do play, to fight and to be motivated. I really enjoyed my time off. But I still want to play and do something big in tennis,” she admitted.

“I started to train and even in the offseason I was really motivated to get on court and practise - I couldn't wait to be out there. I couldn't wish for a better start. After a long break, you don't know what to expect, but I'm happy I could transform my good form into matches.”

It was, however, her Russian opponent who was the first to gain a foothold in this match, securing an early break with a powerful crosscourt forehand in the third game.

But after this early setback, it was the WTA No.26 who had the better of the match. She hit back in the sixth game to draw level, and while the exchanges were punctuated by some moments of deft touch from the Russian, Cibulkova was able to claim the opening set at the third attempt with a thumping backhand.

The second set followed a similar pattern to the first as again Vesnina got her nose in front, but despite threatening to add to that initial break, Cibulkova held firm on her key service points. Indeed, by the midpoint of the set, she had got back on terms and, serving first, she was able to exert scoreboard pressure.

This told in the 10th and final game, with Vesnina netting with a backhand as Cibulkova claimed the match at the second time of asking.

“At the end of the match, it was 3-2 to her in the second set, the way I started to play was just amazing,” Cibulkova said. “When I'm playing my best tennis, that's how I play. I was really aggressive inside and I was not afraid to go for it. I was really strong out there. That's my goal.”

Her win means that Cibulkova now leads the head-to-head record between the players 5-4, but more importantly sees her progress to the quarterfinal stage, where she will face the winner of the match between Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams.

“Whether it's Angie or Venus, I just want to be focused on myself,” she added. “If it's like this for the whole year, I'll be really glad.”


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