Experience helps Cibulkova into Melbourne semis

Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:19pm EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Big-stage experience proved the deciding factor for Dominika Cibulkova on Wednesday as she marched into her second grand slam semi-final with an impressive 6-3 6-0 demolition of Simona Halep at the Australian Open.

The 24-year-old had made the quarter-finals at each of the other three grand slams and completed the set when she beat 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round on Monday.

By contrast, 11th seed Halep had achieved her best grand slam result in making the last eight at Melbourne Park and Cibulkova sensed her Romanian opponent would be battling nerves.

"I think it was also important today because I already was on the stage," Cibulkova told reporters.

"I already played couple quarter-finals in the grand slam (and) I already did semi-finals in a grand slam," she added of her loss to Dinara Safina at the French Open in 2009.

"So that was my experience today. I was ready for it. It was for me like every other match so I didn't take it ... too serious (and) put myself under pressure."

Cibulkova, one of the shorter players on the WTA Tour at 1.61-metres tall (5'3"), used that relaxed approach to play her natural game, which is based on quick feet and deceptively powerful ground strokes.

The 20th seed also attacked Halep's serve and controlled many of the rallies by keeping the Romanian pinned deep behind the baseline.

"I knew I have to be aggressive," Cibulkova said of her game plan for the counter-punching Halep.   Continued...

Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia celebrates defeating Simona Halep of Romania in their women's singles quarter-final tennis match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 22, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray