Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Safina and Cibulkova power into quarters

Dinara Safina

Dinara Safina continued her steady march to her first Grand Slam title when she crushed France’s Aravane Rezai 6-1 6-0 to booked a place in the quarter-finals, where she was joined by the fast and scrappy Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, who cut down Agnes Szavay 6-2 6-4.

The top-ranked Russian is off to her best result ever, losing only five games in four matches. Serving huge and cracking her ground strokes deep and to the corners, Safina nailed 12 winners to only four from the capable and hard-hitting Rezai.

“Since I became No1, I’m feeling better and better,” said Safina, who will face the winner of the match between title holder Ana Ivanovic and No9 seed Victoria Azarenka. “At the beginning of the year when I came close to No1 it was too much pressure for me and I would go on court and think I can’t lose. Getting to No1 has taken the weight off my shoulders.”

In besting Szavay for the fist time in four matches, the No20 seed Cibulkova won the battle from inside the baseline, playing far more consistently and creatively and not allowing the Hungarian to dictate to her.

Cibulkova came into the tournament with little match play due to a groin injury, but the 20-year-old feels mentally refreshed and has impressively displayed the rapid, powerful game that has gained her five wins over top ten players to date. She became the first Slovak to reach the quarter-finals since Karina Habsudova in 1996 and will face the winner of the match between Maria Sharapova and Li Na.

“I felt like I was going to cry, because I was just so happy,” said Cibulkova after the match. “I play tennis for these moments - it was just great, and you cannot even imagine when you win the match point.”

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