AP Photo

Gavrilova upsets Cibulkova in New Haven for first WTA title

Leave a comment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Australian Daria Gavrilova doesn’t hide her emotions on the tennis court – and she put them on full display Saturday in winning her first WTA tournament title.

The unseeded 23-year-old, who was born in Russia, upset second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Connecticut Open.

She finished her comeback from a set down by breaking the 11th-ranked Slovak in the final game, hitting a forehand winner, throwing her racket and jumping into the air in jubilation.

Gavrilova, ranked 26th in the world, gesticulated wildly throughout the match and yelled “Come on” after every big point. That included the turning point in the match, when she broke Cibulkova to go up 3-2 in the second set in a game that featured a 30-shot rally and five deuces.

The match was extremely close with Gavrilova winning 105 points and Cibulkova taking 102.

Both players had problems early serving into the sun. There were five service breaks in the first set all from the same end of the court.

Cibulkova broke at love in the 10th game to take that set when Gavrilova hit a shot into the net and then screamed in frustration.

Cibulkova relied heavily on her forehand, making winner after winner. She had 32 of them in the match, but Gavrilova had 35.

The Australian broke Cibulkova again in the ninth game of the second set, pumping her fist wildly as she sent the match into a third set.

The two also traded breaks in the third set before the decisive 10th game.

Gavrilova, who beat top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals, is 9-18 in her career against opponents ranked in the Top 10. Cibulkova came in ranked 11th. She had been as high as fourth earlier this season.

Cibulkova, who won four times on Tour last year, has not had a victory this season. She was looking for her ninth career win and her first in New Haven in her 8th appearance at the tournament. She had never before made it past the quarterfinals.

Gavrilova began playing for Australia in 2015 after moving from her native Russia at age 18. She became the first player to win her first WTA title in New Haven.

Neither player will get much of a rest before starting play in the U.S. Open. Both are in the bottom half of the draw and will play on Monday. Cibulkova will face fellow Slovakian Jana Cepelova and Gavrilova will face American Allie Kiick.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

AP Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)

Goffin ousts Federer in ATP Finals semis

AP Photo
Leave a comment

LONDON — David Goffin ended Roger Federer’s bid for a seventh ATP Finals title by stunning the favorite 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Belgian claimed the biggest win of his career and qualified for the final on Sunday, when he will face Grigor Dimitrov or Jack Sock. They play later Saturday.

Federer looked to be heading toward his 11th final at the elite season-ending tournament when he cruised through the first set, but Goffin took advantage of a drop in his play to level.

Despite having lost all six of his previous encounters with Federer, Goffin was able to execute better in the deciding set, breaking in the third game and producing a nerveless display of serving to seal victory.