Dominika Cibulkova cruises to Stanford final
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Dominika Cibulkova advanced to her second WTA Tour final this year, coasting past Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0 on Saturday in the Bank of the West Classic.
Cibulkova controlled the pace and played patient and near-perfect tennis against an opponent who folded fast. The third-seeded Cibulkova saved all six break points in the first set and often stayed back on the baseline waiting for Cirstea to make mistakes.
The approach helped Cibulkova go ahead 5-3 in the first set and sweep the second set to cruise into the final on the sun-splashed Stanford campus. The Slovak has two career singles titles and last appeared in a final in January in Sydney, where she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Agnezia Radwanska.
The top-seeded Radwanska, ranked No. 4 in the world, was scheduled to face American Jamie Hampton in the night semifinal.
Cibulkova has played at Stanford the past six years. She had never advanced past the semifinals at the event, even losing to Cirstea in the quarterfinals a year ago.
The hard-hitting Cibulkova avenged that defeat with relative ease. Her deep, penetrating strokes had Cirstea constantly on the move, forcing her to net a forehand and hit a backhand wide for a break at 4-3.
The Slovak shook off five breaks alone to hold her next service game and never relented. Cibulkova, No. 25 in the world rankings, won in Carlsbad last year and in Moscow in 2011 for her only WTA titles.
Cirstea looked ready to end an even longer championship drought but faded in frustration fashion after a strong start at Stanford. The Romanian's only victory on tour came in 2008 at Tashkent (Uzbekistan), which is also her last finals appearance.
The draw at Stanford has been far easier this year than in the past.
Serena Williams, who won the event the past two years, skipped Stanford to rest more. Second-ranked Maria Sharapova withdrew because of a hip injury that occurred at Wimbledon, and eighth-ranked Marion Bartoli pulled out due to a hamstring strain.
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