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Tennis

Cibulkova upsets Kerber in WTA Finals for biggest title of career

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

A surprising name will forever sit atop the list of WTA titles won in 2016.

With Angie Kerber, Aga Radwanska, Simona Halep and Dominika Cibulkova all having won three titles entering the WTA Finals, it’s Cibulkova who managed her fourth with a flawless 6-3, 6-4 upset of Kerber in the final. Though she wobbled at the finish line, her 83% first serve and flurry of attacking forehands prevented a Kerber comeback.

Kerber had swept the round robin stage, 3-0, including a three-set thriller over Cibulkova to start the event, and then rolled past Radwanska in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Cibulkova went just 1-2 in group play (just as 2015 champion Radwanska did) and came from a break down in the third set to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals.

In a sign that this might have just been Cibulkova’s week, she benefited from netcord winners on match point both against Kuznetsova and Kerber.

For Kerber, to lose the rematch against Cibulkova is another disappointing runner-up finish to a great season, but her run in Singapore likely ensures she’ll continue to be World No. 1 even if she fails to defend her Australian Open title in January.

The title carried extra significance for Cibulkova, as it lifted her over Karolina Pliskova for a top five finish in the standings. Her best previous finish was 11th in 2014. In addition, it’s the first top level title of her career, as she reached the final at Montreal 2008, Australian Open 2014, Madrid 2016 and Wuhan 2016, but did not win a set in any of those matches.

With posting a top five season after recovering from Achilles surgery and winning four titles to double her career total (not to mention getting married), 2016 is a season Dominika Cibulkova won’t soon forget.

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