Singapore - Dominika Cibulkova pulled off a stunning upset over Angelique Kerber
to win the WTA Finals on Sunday, beating the newly crowned world number
one in a dramatic 6-3, 6-4 final in Singapore.
Runner-up at the
2014 Australian Open, Slovakia's Cibulkova turned the tables on
Germany's Kerber a week after losing to her in the round-robin stage to
capture the biggest title of her career, sealing it with a fortuitous
net cord after nervously blowing her first three match points.
"This is a big moment for me. It's the biggest moment in my career," Cibulkova said at the presentation.
hard to describe in words (how I feel). I have to congratulate
Angelique Kerber, you are an inspiration for me to play hard this year.
With hard work, everything is possible."
Kerber went into the
final as the overwhelming favourite to win after taking this year's
Australian Open and US Open titles but the 28-year-old was powerless to
stop her diminutive opponent, whose shock win capped an inspired return
to the game's elite that saw her named as this season's WTA Comeback
Player of the Year.
Ranked as low as 66th in the world in February
after struggling with injuries in 2015, Cibulkova only just snuck into
the WTA Finals, restricted to the world's top eight players, when she
won this month's Linz Open in Austria.
She was facing an early
exit when she lost her first two round-robin matches in Singapore but
suddenly turned things around, and won her last one.
only qualified for the semi-finals on a countback when Kerber did her a
huge favour by beating Madison Keys in straight sets and fought back
from a set down and a service break in the decider to win a nailbiting
semi against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
For her win over Kerber,
Cibulkova was presented with the Billie Jean King trophy and a cheque
for $2.05 million, the biggest payday of her life, while the German was
left wondering what went wrong.
"I've had an amazing year. I gave everything on court today," Kerber said.
"We've had an amazing year. For me it's an honour to play on the biggest stage in front of you all, the whole world."
with self-belief after making the quantum leap from another promising
player to the woman who dislodged Serena Williams at the top of the
world rankings, Kerber had done everything right this week, giving up
just set one in the four matches she played en route to the final.
left-hander had won each of her last five matches with Cibulkova, but
did not bank on her playing the match of her life, hitting winners from
every part of the court, eliciting huge roars and gasps from the crowd.
There were some anxious moments at the end for Cibulkova.
squandered three golden opportunities as her nerves started to fray,
but regained her composure and was rewarded for her aggressive approach
with a slice of luck, hitting a ferocious forehand that clipped the tape
and landed on the other side of the net just as she fell to the court
in disbelief at her achievement.
"I'm here for the first time, winning the biggest title of my life," Cibulkova said.
was mentally really strong. I knew I played well in the first two
matches, just really unlucky. In this match, you see, I was lucky."
Olympic gold medallists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina won the
doubles final, beating US Open winners Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie
Safarova 7-5 (7-5) 6-3.
Results from the WTA Finals tournament in Singapore on Sunday (x denotes seeding):
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)/Elena Vesnina (RUS x4) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)/Lucie Safarova (CZE x3)
7-6 (7-5), 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x7) bt Angelique Kerber (GER x1)