EASTBOURNE: Dominika Cibulkova stepped up her bid for a career-first grass title yesterday, completing a rain-hit match to knock top seed Agnieszka Radwanska out of the WTA Eastbourne event 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3. Australian Open finalist Cibulkova from Slovakia, trailed 6-4, 3-2 when their quarter-final was forced off court at Devonshire Park on a rainy Thursday night.
Sunshine and a stiff wind presented fresh challenges as Cibulkova advanced with her upset on Friday. “I’m very happy with this win, Aggie and I have played lots of times (this was their 12th) but never on grass. “Conditions made it difficult but I found myself playing better and better with each game. I came back strong today – that’s why I won.” The last two overdue quarter-finals also wrapped up with Czech tenth seed Karolina Pliskova defeating Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-3 and British 11th seed Johanna Konta, an Australian Open semi-finalist, overcoming former champion Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
Cibulkova had only a few hours to recover before taking to the grass against qualifier Monica Puig. The number 43 from Puerto Rico is trying to repeat history when she also came from a qualifying start in January at Sydney and running all the way into the final where she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova. Radwanska said that despite her loss, she is confidently focused on the Monday start of Wimbledon. “I’m healthy. I’m good. Ready for Wimbledon. Of course it’s always disappointing when you lose, and especially that type of long match. Well, what can you do?
“Maybe I have maximum three days of practice at Wimbledon, It’s not much, but I’m in the match rhythm. I picked up good matches here. “I don’t think I was playing good enough today, she was playing really aggressive, good tennis. I stepped backwards a little bit too much. That wasn’t helping me.”Konta rallied after losing her opening service game against Makarova, who won the 2010 title. The Australian-born Brit, who stood 140th a year ago and reached the top 20 last week, hung on in a first-set tiebreak before closing out victory in straight sets. “I was happy to come out today at home,” said the local, ranked 18th who stands 0-2 on the WTA against Pliskova. “It’s not too bad playing two matches on the same day, the adrenalin takes over.”- AFP