TENNIS-WOMEN-STANFORD:Cibulkova storms past Cirstea to reach Stanford final
By Matt Cronin
STANFORD, California (Reuters) - Third seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia powered past Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-0 to make her first final at the Bank of the West Classic.
In her sixth appearance on the campus of Stanford University, the world number 25 got through a rough patch at the start of the first set and then battered the fifth-seeded Cirstea with powerful groundstrokes and returns.
Cibulkova managed to hold to 5-3 after a marathon eighth game in which she fought off four break points and the momentum clearly shifted as she reeled off seven out of the next eight games.
"I started really well and the level was quite high from both of us, but that game changed everything," Cirstea said Of the eighth game. "After she won that game she stepped up and my level dropped a level. She played better than me."
The 23-year-old Cibulkova had few problems in the second set as she made a strategic shift by moving her position on the return of serve and cutting off the Romanian's favored serves out wide.
Cirstea grew wild and all the Slovak had to do was play steady and keep the ball deep in order to win the match.
"I tried to distract her on the serve and tried to make her think more," said Cibulkova, who has won two WTA titles, the second of which was at Carlsbad last year.
Entering her eighth career final at Stanford, she is hoping her heavy schedule - she will play every week on the U.S. hardcourt circuit until the U.S. Open - will not tire her out too much before the grand slam begins on August 26.
"I always start very well in the U.S. Open Series tournaments and now I have more experience to my keep energy and stay fresh and be ready for the U.S. Open," she said.
Cibulkova will play the winner of the semi-final between top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and fourth seed Jamie Hampton.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)