Caroline Garcia -07- (FRA) def Dominka Cibulkova -30- (SVK) 63 67(3) 60
With the exception of the decider, Tuesday’s 2nd-Round center court nightcap was a hell of a match.
Last month, Garcia reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time and climbed to a career-high ranking of #7 in the World. She ended the 2017 season by winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing, and qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time.
Yesterday, Cibulkova earned a 3-set win over Anastasia Pavyluchenkova in the toughest 1st-Round clash of the tournament.
Garcia had to set a dominant tone early. Cibulkova was ready to prove rankings were mere numbers, and 1st-Round Byes were death sentences.
A tight first set
Dominika Cibulkova is a fighter. She rarely loses her competitive edge until she hears “Game. Set. Match.” When down, it often feels like she’s one backhand away from righting the ship.
That’s how set-1 felt Tuesday night. Garcia earned her first break after the first changeover, but Dominka broke right back. The two traded punishing pace the rest of the way, but Caroline scored a timely break to go up 5-3, then served out the set.
Set-2: Garcia Gives It Away
Set-2 was dynamic. Garcia broke to open, then the two traded breaks after the first sit-down. Up 5-4, Caroline got nervy serving for the match and Cibulkova took full advantage. With the late break, Dominka was in Caroline’s head. Garcia had to fight-off a set-point just to force in the tie-break.
In the breaker, Dominika jumped ahead 4-0, gave up 3-points, then earned two holds to reach set-point again. The pressure was too much for Garcia. After all that effort, Caroline gave up the the second set with a double fault.
A Twighlight Zone Decider
Knowing what you now know…one would think Cibulkova was primed for the upset. Dominika had battled back from a set and a break down to keep the match alive. However, instead of maintaining momentum, the World #30 simply vanished in the third. She didn’t win a single game. After Garcia’s break in game-2, the set flew by at warp speed and Cibulkova rushed off the court.
Out of character? Absolutely. Perhaps Caroline’s previous 63 75 win in Wuhan’s Round of 16 last September crept into her frontal lobe. After all, this was an identical match, except this time Dominika had actually forced the tie-break and deciding set. Correction: She was handed the tie-break, forcing the deciding set. Perhaps therein lies the mental lapse.
Weird stuff. Tennis: It’s a heady game.
NEXT UP: Anna Blinkova or Kristina Mladenovic
Uh-oh. By all appearances, the chilly relationship between former doubles partners Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic will be on full-display in Doha’s Round of 16. Should Kristina, now the World #13, make it past 19-year-old qualifier and current World #164 Anna Blinkova, the former French tandem will be trading forehands instead of high-fives.
There’s no love lost on Kristina’s side. She doesn’t mind the fact that Carolina decided to focus on singles over doubles last year, she just wishes Caroline had talked about it with her in-person, rather than over the phone. The two have faced each other once before, during friendlier times at the 2016 Oz warm-up in Sydney. Garcia won that 1st-Round match 76(4) 64.
You’ve been warned, Doha’s forecast calls for ice on Thursday.
Last month, this 24-year-old reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time and climbed to a career-high ranking of #7 in the World. Last year, she was on fire – reaching her first Grand Slam Quarterfinal at Roland Garros, and ending the season by winning back-back-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing. She qualified for the WTA Finals Singapore for the first time, and reached the Semifinals in her Singles debut. A member of her country’s Olympic and Fed Cup Teams, in 2016 she won her first Grand Slam Doubles title at Roland Garros, and reached both the US Open and Fed Cup Finals. Competing in her 6th Qatar Total Open, from France – Please welcome the #7 Player in the World, Caroline Garcia
Yesterday, this 28-year-old defeated World #22 Anastasia Pavyluchenkova the reach the 2nd-Round here in Doha for the 4th time. She owns 8 WTA Singles titles; and last Summer in New Haven, reached her 29th career Singles final. In 2016, she captured the title at the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore, defeating World #1 Angelique Kerber in the championship match, and finished the season ranked inside the top-5 for the first time. Then, last February, she reached the Semifinals in both St. Petersburg and here in Doha, climbing to a career-high ranking of #4 in the World. An Australian Open Finalist in 2014, she’s the first woman from Slovakia ever to reach the championship match of a Major. Competing in her 6th Qatar Total Open, from Slovakia – Please welcome back 2017 Semifinalist, Dominika Cibulkova