Dominika Cibulkova takes ‘best week ever on grass’ into Wimbledon
Dominika Cibulkova beat Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday to claim her first career title on grass at the WTA Eastbourne event and give herself a boost ahead of Wimbledon.
The Slovak 12th seed was competing in her fourth final of 2016 and now owns two trophies since April after her victory in just over 90 minutes over the Czech 10th seed.
Former Australian Open finalist Cibulkova will move back to 18th in the rankings as she continues to recover from the Achilles ankle surgery she underwent in 2015.
“I’m so happy, I cannot believe that it happened today. I played well in difficult (windy) conditions for both of us,” said Cibulkova.
“This is a very happy time, I won my first title on grass. This is my best week ever on grass.”
The 5ft 3in (1.61m) player added the pre-Wimbledon showpiece to her trophy from two months ago when she won in Katowice, Poland.
The Slovak now holds six career trophies – all but Eastbourne won on hardcourt or indoor hardcourt.
Cibulkova improved her record over Pliskova to 2-0 after a 2014 win in the Kuala Lumpur semi-finals.
Cibulkova took the sting out of the imposing Pliskova serve, holding the woman who has led the WTA for the last three seasons with at least 500 aces, to just four in a match lasting almost one and three-quarter hours on the English south coast.
The Slovak ended the see-saw opening set with a fourth break of the Czech serve and got away to a 3-1 lead in the second as rain clouds threatened to roll in over Devonshire Park.
Pliskova, who goes into Wimbledon with the Nottingham grass court title under her belt, was unable to get into contention from a set and a break down.
Cibulkova closed out victory after winning a 10-minute penultimate game and finishing off her afternoon from a Pliskova error a game later.
“This has been such a great week, this is my second time here and I’ll be back for many more years,” said the 27-year-old Cibulkova. “I’m happy to win the title at least once.”
Despite defeat, Pliskova is confident heading to the All England Club after losing for the second time to her cross-border rival.
“I’m pleased with how I’m playing on grass. But the main event is coming now.
“I wanted to play as many matches as I could before Wimbledon. I’m feeling good on the surface. Now I’m gonna rest for a day and be ready for next week.”
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Updated: June 25, 2016 04:00 AM