Former world number four Dominika Cibulkova secured a place in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time since 2010 on Saturday, with the Slovak coming from a set down to beat former champion Angelique Kerber in an entertaining match on Court Louis Armstrong.
Cibulkova, who had previously had two three-set matches this tournament, has struggled at times this year, and has not really been near her best since her stellar 2016 season. She was certainly not the favorite heading into this match, with Kerber having won both their meetings this season without conceding more than three games in each set.
However, the head to head between the two was tight, with the German narrowly leading it 7-5, which suggested this may be tighter. Kerber has also not been at her best since her Wimbledon victory, though the fourth seed was very impressive in the opening set in this match, after a tight second round match against Johanna Larsson.
Despite dropping the first set without coming too close to Kerber, Cibulkova responded well in both the second and third sets, eventually prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 13 minutes to set up a fourth round meeting against 14th seed Madison Keys; a win there would see her reach her first quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows in eight years.
Cibulkova rallies to shock former champion
It was Kerber, the champion here two years ago, who started sharply, breaking the Slovak in the opening game of the match and consolidating for a 2-0 lead. Cibulkova was able to get on the board in the next game, though could do little to match the German throughout the set. The fourth seed was playing some fantastic tennis in the opening set, and a second break of serve saw her seal the opener in fine style.
The second set saw an immediate momentum swing, with the 29th seed taking control earlier on. Cibulkova broke twice as she eased to a 3-0 lead, though Kerber managed to get a break back to get back to 2-3. However, the Slovak did not hand out many more opportunities to break, looking much more solid on serve than she did in the opener, and she began to take control she broke for a third time in the set to send this clash to a decider.
Despite finishing the second set strongly, Cibulkova was under early pressure in set three, though saved two break points to hold in the opening game, and eventually secured the first break of the decider to lead 3-1. Kerber needed to act fast to stay in the tournament, and converted a fifth break point to break straight back, though the Slovak broke once again, and this time consolidated to lead at 5-2. Kerber was able to force Cibulkova to serve for it, though the latter converted her first match point to secure an impressive victory.