WTA Acapulco: Sloane Stephens Takes The Title After A Close Three Set Battle Against Dominika Cibulkova

Coming into the match, Sloane Stephens and Dominika Cibulkova had faced off two times. Both Stephens and Cibulkova had a victory each, with Cibulkova winning the most recent matchup last year in Toronto.

On their way to the final, the American and Slovakian had both only dropped one set. With the two players in good form, there were no surprises that the final was as close and entertaining as it was.

Stephens Gets The Upper Hand

The first set, got off to the worst possible start for Cibulkova as Stephens capitalised on her first break point opportunity to win the game. Stephens backed up the break by holding her serve, putting herself in a commanding position at the start of the set.

Despite the momentum seemingly being with the American, the set was quickly back level, as Cibulkova saved two break points to hold her serve. The Slovakian then utilisied her third break point opportunity to win the fourth game of the set and level the score at 2-2.

After levelling the score, Cibulkova had the chance to put herself in the lead for the first time in the match. However, the Slovakian got broken to love, putting Stephens ahead once more. Both players were not performing well on serve, and the following two games resulted in the returning player getting the break.

Stephens and Cibulkova both won their next service game, taking the score to 4-5 and giving the American an opportunity to serve for the set. The 22-year-old did not let the pressure of serving for the set get to her, as she comfortably won the game to love.  

Cibulkova Battles Back To Take The Set

The start of the second set was similar to the end of the first as both players managed to hold their service games without any problems. It was in the third game of the set that Stephens gained the upper hand as she broke Cibulkova's serve once again.

At a set and a break down, it looked like Cibulkova's final would soon be over, but the 26-year-old was not going down without a fight. Cibulkova held her serve in the fifth game, despite facing a break point. The Slovakian's fighting spirit then shone through as she broke Stephens to love to level the set at 3-3.

Unlike in the first set, Cibulkova did not let Stephens regain control of the set after she levelled the score. This time around, Cibulkova fought off the American's two break point opportunities to win her service game and put herself in the lead for the first time in the match.

Cibulkova got the decisive break at a crucial moment in the set. Stephens knew she had to hold her serve to keep herself in with a chance of winning the match in two sets. However, the American could not do anything to prevent Cibulkova from capitalizing on her first set point.

Cibulkova Plays A Forehand. Photo: Manuel Velasquez/ Getty Images
Cibulkova Plays A Forehand. Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Tiebreaker Needed To Decide The Match

After two close sets, there was nothing to seperate the players, briging the match to a decisive third set. Neither player was willing to give the other a chance to gain momentum, as they both held their opening two service games, losing no more than two points each time.

It was Stephens who took the lead in the third set. The American raced to a 0-40 lead in the game, giving herself three break point opportunities. Cibulkova managed to save two of the chances, but that was not enough for the Slovakian number two. It was a case of third time lucky for Stephens as she finally broke Cibulkova on her third opportunity.

Stephens just needed to hold her serve to keep the momentum in the match, however, Cibulkova was not willing to let that happen as she broke back straight away. With the match level once more, it was difficult to see who would get the victory.

In the seventh and the eighth games of the set, both Cibulkova and Stephens fought off three break points before winning their service games. During Stephens's service game, there were seven deuces and three break point chances for Cibulkova, all of which the American overcame to eventually take the game.

Cibulkova and Stephens were both playing some top tennis, with many tennis fans claiming that this match will be a contender for the final of the season. After many holds of serve, the set was level at 6-6, and a tiebreak was needed to decide who would take the title.

During the tiebreak, Cibulkova was the first to gain some momentum, gaining a mini advantage to give herself a 2-1 lead. The lead did not last long though, as Cibulkova lost two points on her serve, which included missing a routine forehand putaway, thus giving Stephens a 3-2 lead.

Stephens quickly found herself with three match points. The American had two chances to serve out the match, but Cibulkova was not ready for the match to end and she won two points to prevent Stephens from winning the title, at least for another point. Eventually though, the American won the match with her third match point opportunity.

After just over three hours, Stephens became the Acapulco champion. The title is the American's second of the year already and with her current form, there is a chance she could win many more.

The final was very entertaining, and it was good to see both players playing at their best again. During the trophy ceremony Stephens thanked Cibulkova for bringing the best out of her saying, "I got a little bit better today because of her, and I wouldn't want to have this memory with anyone else."

Stephens And Cibulkova With Their Trophies. Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Getty
Stephens And Cibulkova With Their Trophies. Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Match Statistics

The service game of both players, was a big factor in the outcome of the match. Stephens was better with serving, hitting 3 aces and 3 double faults compared to Cibulkova's 0 aces and 6 double faults.

Both players were just as bad at converting break points. However, Cibulkova was slightly better as she converted 45 percent of her break points. On the other hand, Stephens only converted 28 percent of her break point chances.