While many anticipated the rekindling of an old rivalry between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams, last year’s runner-up Dominika Cibulkova derailed those plans with an incredible performance to reach the final eight in Melbourne. She will now go up against the American, whom she has never defeated on the tour. Williams leads the head-to-head series 4-0.
Follow the quarter-final here: Serena Williams v Cibulkova Live
The top seed rallied from a set down to defeat her French Open vanquisher Garbine Muguruza 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. She had to deal with a particularly aggressive Spaniard and was unable to find her rhythm until the midway point of the second set. Overall, Williams hit 41 winners, 17 aces and won 78% of her first service points to clouse out the match in exactly two hours.
In another tough three-set battle on Rod Laver Arena, Dominika Cibulkova weathered a mid-match storm from Victoria Azarenka to defeat the former champion 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. She hit 44 winners, won 58% of her first service points, and converted 7 break points en route to 2 hour and 10 minute victory. It was undoubtedly Cibulkova’s biggest win since her run at this very tournament last year.
“I would say it was a high level of tennis. The first set, the way I played, was just really, really — no mistakes. I was going for my shots and I was just doing the right things. I was really putting her under so much pressure. And then — then she stepped up in the second set much more. She started to serve better and return better. So she kept me out of the — more behind the baseline.
“Then in the third set I just knew I have to go for it more than hundred percent. I knew I have to be much more aggressive and just stay there and to go for my shots. So, yeah, today was really, really tough one, but I managed to get through. It was such a good match.”
Williams and Cibulkova has crossed paths on four previous occasions on the professional tour, all of which Williams won in convincing fashion. Cibulkova has only ever taken one set off the American but is playing some of her best tennis since last year’s Australian Open. This could end up being another tight three-set encounter, but Williams should reach the semi-finals in the end.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Three Sets