Cibulkova storms to first WTA Finals title triumph

SINGAPORE: Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who pulled off a stunning upset over world number one Angelique Kerber to scoop the WTA finals Sunday, credited her mental strength for her winning performance.

Runner-up at the 2014 Australian Open, the former seventh seed denied Kerber a chance to end a remarkable year on a high, defeating her in a nail-biting 6-3, 6-4 final in Singapore that lasted 76 minutes.

“It’s a big thing now in my tennis that I work with a mental coach. I’ve worked with him for one and a half years.

“This is something very important for me, because as you can see, on the court I put a lot of emotions, and emotions just affect me,” she told reporters after her win.

Cibulkova turned the tables on Germany’s Kerber a week after losing to her in the first of three round-robin stage matches.

“This is a big moment for me. It’s the biggest moment in my career,” Cibulkova said at the presentation.

“It’s 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.

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 but was facing an early exit from Singapore after losing her first two matches.

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