Dominika Cibulkova started her 2017 Toray Pan Pacific Open campaign in style today, with the fifth-seeded Slovak easing past the potentially tricky Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets to reach the second round.
The Slovak, who was ranked as high as fourth in the early parts of this year following a stellar 2016, has been far from her best throughout large parts of 2016 and faced a tricky first round opponent in Suarez Navarro, herself a former top ten player, though only lost her own serve once and broke four times in total to secure an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win to comfortably secure a second round berth at the Premier Tournament.
Cibulkova impresses as she slides into the second round
The Slovak had won four of the six previous meetings between the two in the past, including a straight sets win at this very tournament two years ago, and it was clear that Suarez Navarro often had very few answers as Cibulkova breezed through.
It was undoubtedly an extremely good start by the fifth seed, who broke the Spaniard to love for a 3-1 lead and continued to take advantage of Suarez Navarro’s struggles as she broke to love once again as she raced out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set. However, things did not all go the Slovak’s way, with Suarez Navarro saving two set points to get one of the breaks back, though she was unable to put any more pressure on Cibulkova, who was able to serve out the set at the second time of asking.
After working her way back into the first set a little bit towards the end, it was perhaps important for Suarez Navarro to start well in the second set, though that did not happen as Cibulkova broke in the third game to put herself firmly in control of the encounter. The Slovak was now looking extremely comfortable on court, and the Spaniard was unable to gain any ground as her opponent remained firm and built up a 5-3 lead in the second set. Serving to stay in the match, Suarez Navarro slightly crumbled, and Cibulkova broke to love for the third time to seal an impressive win.
There were one or two sticky moments for the WTA Finals champion, such as towards the end of the first set, but in general, it was an encouraging performance by Cibulkova; having looked lackluster throughout some matches this year, she will undoubtedly be buoyed by an energetic and composed performance today. She will face Katerina Siniakova in the next round.