World No. 2 Li Na and rising star Dominika Cibulkova will meet for a third time this season in the semi-final round of the Sony Open in Miami. The two are coming off a three set encounter at Indian Wells, as well as a meeting at the Australian Open final – both of which went the way of the Chinese No. 1. Li remains undefeated with 6-0 record against the world No. 11. Check out the Li Na vs Cibulkova Head to Head and stats.
While it may not have been her best performance, Li Na managed to end her quarter-final contest against Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. The Chinese No. 1 hit 4 double faults and surrendered 3 break points, yet managed to close out the match 7-5, 7-5 in 2 hours and 2 minutes.
Next for Li will be yet another clash with Cibulkova, whom she met in the quarter-final round at Indian Wells less than two weeks ago. While Li remains undefeated against the Slovakian, she is aware of her ever-improving game.
“She’s a tough opponent,” Li said. “It’ll be a replay of the Australian Open final, but this will be different. The last couple of months we’ve both improved a lot, and it’ll be a very tough match tomorrow.”
Dominika Cibulkova boosted her record to 2-0 against Radwanska in 2014, defeating the third seed 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals in Miami. The first set featured a valiant effort from both competitors, yet it was Cibulkova’s 19 unforced errors and inability to hold serve that ultimately cost her the set. She was getting the better of many exchanges and rallies, hitting 12 winners and managed to break Radwanksa on three occasions, yet lost the last three consecutive games to give up the set in a little over half an hour. Neither player won more than 33% of their first service points – a woeful display from both.
The second set started in similar fashion, with Cibulkova breaking early to lead 1-0, yet Radwanksa boosted her level once again to break Cibulkova for the sixth consecutive time. This trend continued until the the seventh game, where Radwanska moved up to secure 5-4 lead and had three match points on the Cibulkova serve, yet failed to close out the match. A few minutes later, a tiebreak ensued, where the world No. 3 took a quick mini-break to lead 5-3 but once again allowed Cibulkova back in the match and eventually lost the tiebreak 7-5.
Following a quick medical timeout for Aga, Cibulkova stormed to a 2-0 lead in the deciding set but would surrender the break before forcing a final offensive onslaught in the ninth game to break and close out the set.
The win will lift Cibulkova to a career high of world No. 10 as of next week.
“This win really means a lot to me,” Cibulkova beamed in her on-court interview. “It’s always tough to play Aga, but I knew I just had to stay aggressive. If you make some mistakes with Aga you still have to stay aggressive. That’s the way I play, and it’s the only way to beat her. I just had to keep going.”
While Cibulkova continues to rise up the WTA ranks, she has yet to prove to fans and pundits alike that she is capable of toppling the reigning Australian Open champion. So far, she has failed on six occasions, two of which took place within the past two months. Whether this will affect her confidence and ultimately her performance in the semi-final is as intriguing as the actual match.
Prediction: Li Na in Three Sets