Cibulkova Conquers Bartoli & Carlsbad
- They're good friends and two of the best all-around players on the WTA, mixing strong offense with very strong defense - but there could only be one winner at the Mercury Insurance Open and it was Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Marion Bartoli in straight sets in the final of the Premier event, 61 75.
Playing for the first time since 2008 it was the No.2-seeded Cibulkova who came out stronger, losing the first game but winning six in a row for the first set. Bartoli built a 4-1 lead in the second set but Cibulkova again went on a roll, winning six of the next seven games to put the No.1-seeded Frenchwoman away.
"I have to say, this was the first WTA final where I played really well," Cibulkova said. "In the first set everything was going my way. My forehand was working today 100%, and also my serves and returns. So everything was fine.
"In the second set I was up 1-0, 40-0, and I got a little bit nervous, starting to think about getting closer to the title. She's a great player and was fighting for every ball and went up 4-1, but I realized I was leading in a few of those games, so I knew I could turn it around again. And I just kept going.
"I'm really happy I didn't give up and turned the second set around."
Cibulkova now has two WTA titles to her name, and both of them have come at the Premier level - her first came on the indoor hardcourts of Moscow last fall. The World No.14's win over the World No.10 was the 14th Top 10 win of her career.
"In Moscow I never had a title before, and everybody was talking to me about the title, and it was a little bit too much pressure. The final was really crazy," Cibulkova said. "When I won the match point there I felt like something maybe happened, but today I knew the feeling. You want to win the tournament."
Going to three sets in all of her matches leading up to the final could have been somewhat of an inconvenience for Bartoli, who fell to 7-11 in WTA finals.
"The toughest part for me was to play three matches at night and then come to the day session," Bartoli said. "I played well to get the lead in the second set, but from there I started to feel a bit tired and wasn't moving so quickly anymore. And she was playing extremely well, which made me feel uncomfortable too.
"I really fought extremely hard on the court, and being in the final this year obviously means a lot to me before heading to Montreal and Cincinnati."