Wimbledon 2016: Cibulkova power knocks out Radwanska in classic

The Slovakian 19th seed comes out on top topsy-turvy decider, winning 6-3, 7-5, 9-7 in a women's Wimbledon classic, to reach the last eight.

Wimbledon 2016: Cibulkova power knocks out Radwanska in classic
Photo: Jullian Finney / Getty Images

Slovakian 19th seed Dominika Cibulkova continued her meteoric rise on grass, knocking out world number three Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland over three sets and hours of a Wimbledon classic, 6-3, 5-7, 9-7. 

The match became a battle of wills as the power of the Slovak finally told in a match of high quality and intensity, with an extraordinary deciding set climax which captivated an enthralled crowd on Court Three.

It is Cibulkova's ninth win in a row following her victory at Eastbourne last month, as she replicates her quarter final appearance at SW19 five years ago.

Slovak dominates opening set

Cibulkova's power was likely to be a dominant element of the match and so it proved to begin with. On both forehand and backhand returns, the Slovakian was able to out-manouvre her Polish opponent through sheer bullishness.

In only Radwanska's second service game, the dimuntive 19th seed broke to take a 3-1 lead. Cibulkova pushed for the double-break in the sixth game, but the world number three held strong, looking for an opening to reduce the deficit.

Cibulkova's power dominated large portions of the first two sets (photo:getty)
Cibulkova's power dominated large portions of the match (photo:getty)

The chink of light that Radwanska sought never came however and serving at 5-3, Cibulkova took the opening set.

Radwanska fights back

Both players had met three times previously this season. All three of which had gone the distance. Cibulkova however had won the last meeting at Eastbourne just prior to the Championships at SW19, on her way to winning the title on the South coast - her first on grass.

The psychology of that match was swinging the contest the way of the 27 year-old Slovak, who reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon back in 2011. Radwanska was struggling with her first serve percentage, but held on hoping to grab an opportunity.  

Cibulkova was giving short shrift across the net and again ruthlessly seized upon the shaky Radwanska serve, to again break in similar fashion in the the second. Cibulkova's energy was visibly sapping the energy and heart of the Pole.

In the following game the tide suddenly shifted, as Radwanska penetrated the Cibulkova bubble and broke straight back. The Slovak was still dominating and bouncing around the court, but her radar was beginning to err slightly.

Cibulkova tightens up with finish in sight

At 3-3 Cibulkova stormed back to break her opoonent's fragile serve, ruthlessly pouncing on the comparitively timid Radwanska across the net. The Pole gutsily broke break again, but it seemed academic that she would again drop her serve.

Pole's touch returns to level match (photo:getty)
Pole's touch returns to level match (photo:getty)

Again the power came from Cibulkova with a another break for 5-4 to serve for the match. Despite the mid-set wobble from the Slovakian, Radwanska's effort seemed forlorn, but again levelled the score.

With the finish line in sight, it seemed Cibulkova was simply trying too hard as the customary nerves set in. Radwanska pounced after finally holding to break the resolve of the Slovak, sending the fourth match between the two into a decider once more.

Cibulkova powers through in epic decider

It felt like Radwanska had almost stolen the second set, but the fight on display from the Pole was beginning to take hold of Cibulkova as the errors crept into her opponent's game.

The opening six games were shared and with both players having settled down, the decider was set to be a prolonged one, as the match ticked into the third hour. Radwanska's touch had returned and both were now exchanging base-line rallies, hammering the ball across the court. 

Cibulkova's power remained an imminent threat and the Slovakian came again to break to 4-3,  but again the match see-sawed as the Pole returned the favour. At 5-5, Radwanska saved five break points in an epic 10-minute 11th game of the set. The quality was off the chart as the score reached as breaks were unfathomably exchanged, at seven games a-piece.

Cibulkova collapses to group after winning a classic (photo:getty)
Cibulkova collapses to ground after winning a classic (photo:getty)

It was Cibulkova who struck the decisive blow. Taking the lead again at 8-7, another dramatic game ensued but the Slovakian had enough, collapsing to the ground in delight to win a stunning deciding set 9-7.

The ebb and flow of the match, aswell as the unwavering quality of both competitors' game will hold this match up as one of the finest in women's recent memory at SW19.

Cibulkova will face the winner of the all-Russian last 16 match between Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova, on Tuesday.