Ruth­less Ker­ber sets up fi­nal with Cibulkova

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

An­gelique Ker­ber con­tin­ued her re­lent­less march to­wards a maiden WTA Fi­nals crown with a com­pre­hen­sive 62 6-1 vic­tory over de­fend­ing cham­pion Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska yes­ter­day to set up a ti­tle show­down against Do­minika Cibulkova.

The Ger­man en­joyed a break­through cam­paign with vic­to­ries at the Aus­tralian and US Opens to usurp Ser­ena Williams at the top of the world rank­ings and af­ter an­other dom­i­nant dis­play, she will be favoured to cap her sea­son with the Sin­ga­pore ti­tle to­day.

“I was try­ing to be fo­cused on ev­ery sin­gle point be­cause play­ing against her is so tough, so I just made sure I played my game and was ag­gres­sive,” Ker­ber said. “It’s amaz­ing to think that I will be in the fi­nal in Sin­ga­pore.”

Both play­ers are renowned for their ex­em­plary de­fence and supreme ath­leti­cism but, with serv­ing not con­sid­ered their strong­est suit, it was hardly sur­pris­ing to see the con­test start with three straight breaks in favour of the Ger­man.

Ker­ber gave her Pol­ish op­po­nent no free points, got ev­ery­thing back and forced Rad­wan­ska into play­ing an ex­tra shot on ev­ery rally, the con­stant pres­sure lead­ing to an­other break in the sev­enth game, enough for the Ger­man to claim the opener. Rad­wan­ska strug­gled to come up with any an­swers as the alarm­ingly con­sis­tent Ker­ber ran away with the con­test against her dispir­ited op­po­nent with four more breaks of serve.

In the first semi-fi­nal, Cibulkova con­tin­ued her dream de­but at the elite eight­woman event with a thrilling 1-6 7-6(2) 6-4 vic­tory over Rus­sian Svet­lana Kuznetsova in an ab­sorb­ing en­counter.

The 27-year-old Slo­vakian, who had won their last five en­coun­ters, en­joyed a bright open­ing and threat­ened on Kuznetsova’s first ser­vice game but some boom­ing fore­hands bailed out the Rus­sian, who edged ahead when she broke in the third game.

Kuznetsova was now fir­ing on all cylin­ders, push­ing Cibulkova all around the court and forc­ing her into er­rors and the ram­pant Rus­sian se­cured two more breaks to com­plete a run of six straight games to wrap up the opener.

Cibulkova re­sponded by step­ping up her in­ten­sity lev­els in the sec­ond set and, as the ten­sion mounted, nei­ther player was ca­pa­ble of hold­ing serve and four con­sec­u­tive breaks from the ninth game sent it to a tiebreaker.

Cibulkova main­tained her ag­gres­sion in the tiebreak, sprint­ing 6-2 ahead as Kuznetsova strug­gled to keep pace and the Slo­vakian sent the con­test into a de­cider when she ri­fled a back­hand win­ner past her static op­po­nent.

The third set was punc­tu­ated by sev­eral swings in mo­men­tum be­fore Cibulkova fol­lowed up a gutsy hold from 15-40 in the ninth game to seal vic­tory with an­other break. “This is my first time here and it’s one of my dreams come true, just in­cred­i­ble,” world num­ber eight Cibulkova said.

The fi­nal is a re­match of their open­ing round-robin match last Sun­day in which Ker­ber beat the Slo­vakian 7-6(5) 2-6 6-3, the only con­test of the week when the Ger­man lost a set. — Reuters

SIN­GA­PORE: An­gelique Ker­ber of Ger­many hits a re­turn against Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska of Poland dur­ing their women’s sin­gles semi­fi­nal match at the WTA Fi­nals tennis tour­na­ment in Sin­ga­pore yes­ter­day. —AFP

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