Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova scored a shock win over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic at the Pan Pacific Open on Friday, booking a semifinal spot with a straight-sets victory at the Ariake Tennis Forest Park.
The diminutive world No. 48 Cibulkova overpowered her more well-credentialed opponent, winning a tight first set tiebreaker before imposing her will on Croatia’s former French Open champion in the final set to take the match 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
“Today was my best match here in Tokyo,” said Cibulkova on the court after the match. “I was just sticking to my game, being very active, not letting Anna into the court and being active on her serve.
“I did everything perfect today and I was really tough.”
However, the unseeded Cibulkova is not looking any further than her next match against Agnieszka Radwanska.
“It is still really far, but I’m playing well and go step-by-step and give my best,” she said.
Radwanska progressed to the Saturday semifinal with a win over Karolina Pliskova, taking her career record to 4-0 over the Czech world No. 11.
After a tight first set that saw Pliskova drop her serve late to lose the set 7-5, Radwanska put her opponent away with a clinical 6-2 close-out.
Earlier on Friday, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic ended the Pan Pacific Open of world No. 8 Garbine Muguruza claiming her place in the semifinals with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 win.
Bencic broke her opponent’s spirit in the first set tiebreaker, dominating play to win the decider with the loss of only one point. In the second set, Muguruza could put up only weak resistance as she won just one more game on her way out of the Tokyo tournament.
The 18-year-old right-handed Bencic will next meet Caroline Wozniacki who got past Angelique Kerber in the second quarterfinal.
Wozniacki had to work hard against a player in Kerber who had beaten her in three of their past four meetings.
After waltzing through the first set 6-2 against the world No. 9, Wozniacki was faced with a different player in the second, as Kerber fired her way to a 6-2 set victory of her own. But the Danish two-time U.S Open finalist managed to grind out a 6-3 third set win to move on.
Bencic is expecting a torrid semifinal against the Dane.
“Caroline and I always have a lot of long rallies against each other, and she never gives you a point for free,” she said on Friday. “It’s always very difficult playing against her.”
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