2017 Season Review: Dominika Cibulkova fails to back up her success

After an incredible 2016, Dominika Cibulkova endured through a tough 2017 which saw her fail to break new grounds.

2017 Season Review: Dominika Cibulkova fails to back up her success
Dominika Cibulkova was unable to perform consistently throughout the year | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

After a successful 2016, Dominika Cibulkova failed to follow up all her successes this year and experienced a series of poor results which ultimately saw her ending the year outside the world’s top-25. 2017 has been extremely disappointing for the Slovakian, who had great expectations entering the new season especially after winning the biggest trophy of her career in Singapore. However, it turned out to be the exact opposite — claiming zero top-10 wins coupled with the failure to win a WTA title.

Win-loss record: Disappointing season for the Slovakian

Cibulkova owns a poor 26-22 (.542) win-loss record throughout the season, with only two wins over the top-20 players. Astonishingly, 19 of the Slovakian’s losses were suffered against players of a lower ranking, including three players who were ranked outside the top-100. She reached a total of just five quarterfinals in 2017, compared to 11 from last year.

Dominika Cibulkova in action during her first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac
Dominika Cibulkova in action during her first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

High Points of season: Five quarterfinal appearances

Although Cibulkova’s year was horrid, she was able to rattle off a couple of decent wins in the process. Receiving a tricky draw in St. Petersburg, the Slovakian powered past Donna Vekic and ousted home favorite Elena Vesnina to make the semifinals. Furthermore, she followed it up with a second consecutive quarterfinal appearance at the Qatar Total Open, conquering Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Samantha Stosur back-to-back, and both of them were outstanding victories.

Her fourth-round runs in Indian Wells and Miami also included several straightforward victories — triumphing in a high-quality affair against Jelena Ostapenko before coming back from the brink to defeat Kristyna Pliskova in three tight sets. Cibulkova seemed to have found her groove in Miami, clinching consecutive straightforward wins over Veronica Cepede Royg and Kirsten Flipkens respectively.

Dominika Cibulkova was extremely disappointing on grass this year | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe
Dominika Cibulkova was extremely disappointing on grass this year | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

Towards the end of 2017, we were treated to some of Cibulkova’s clinical aggressive tennis. She impressively reached the final at the Connecticut Open, defeating Alize Cornet and clinching just her second top-20 victory of the year against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Slovakian then ousted Elise Mertens for a place in her first final of the year, but there she fell short to Daria Gavrilova in a deciding set.

Her best performance during the Asian Swing came at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, where she reached just her fifth quarterfinal of the year. Strolling to the last eight with the loss of just ten games, Cibulkova seemed on course for a maiden top-10 win of 2017 but wasted a couple of match points, and was eventually forced to retire in the final set against Caroline Wozniacki due to a right thigh injury.

Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire from her Tokyo quarterfinal match | Photo: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac
Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire from her Tokyo quarterfinal match | Photo: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac

Low Points of season: Failure to be consistent

Cibulkova had a relatively poor start to the year, having achieved disappointing results during the Australian swing. Her season started with second-round losses at both the Brisbane International and Sydney International. She fell to Alize Cornet and came up second best to Eugenie Bouchard respectively, with both defeats being considered poor results as Cibulkova went into the match as the favorite.

The Australian Open, a Grand Slam where Cibulkova used to consistently perform well, kick-started her series of losses to Ekaterina Makarova. Before this year, the Slovakian owned a commanding 3-0 lead in their head-to-head record, but the Russian magically leveled the record with three consecutive wins of her own in 2017. Their encounter in Melbourne was a thrilling one, with Cibulkova producing an improbable comeback before Makarova overcame her nerves to seal the win.

Dominika Cibukova put in a disappointing performance at the Australian Open, falling in the third-round | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac
Cibulkova Cibukova put in a disappointing performance at the Australian Open, falling in the third-round | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac

Cibulkova soon earned her biggest chance to reach her first final of the year at the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy. However, she suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of the unheralded Yulia Putintseva in the semifinals, losing a 4-2 lead in the final set. Another substandard performance followed, with the Slovakian being conquered by Makarova once again in Dubai this time.

Although she recorded decent performances in Indian Wells and Miami, her campaigns ended in an unexpected way. Just weeks after defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Doha, she was vanquished by the Russian in three sets despite holding a 5-2 record against her coming into the match. Furthermore, she was shocked by Lucie Safarova 6-7, 1-6 at the Miami Open, having not lost to the Czech before this year. Similar to Makarova, the Czech also overturned a 2-5 head-to-head record and rattled off three straight wins over the Slovakian in 2017.

Dominika Cibulkova celebrates her win over Mertens in Connecticut, where she reached the final | Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America
Dominika Cibulkova celebrates her win over Mertens in Connecticut, where she reached the final | Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

Nothing was going right for Cibulkova during the entirety of the clay-court season and amassed a devastating 2-3 win-loss record during this period of time. She suffered dismaying defeats against Oceane Dodin and world number 114 Ons Jabeur at the French Open, adding onto her third successive loss to Makarova.

Cibulkova had a ton of points to defend on grass this year — Eastbourne title and Wimbledon quarterfinals. However, despite playing more events than usual, Cibulkova suffered several shock losses to lower-ranked players and did not record a single quarterfinal appearance. She was surprisingly conquered by qualifier Antonia Lottner at the Ricoh Open before wasting a match point against Lucie Safarova in Birmingham. As the defending champion at the Aegon International, she fell short to local wildcard Heather Watson before exiting Wimbledon in the third round, coming up second best against Ana Konjuh in a three-set thriller.

Dominika Cibulkova will look to rise in the rankings once more | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe
Dominika Cibulkova will look to rise in the rankings once more | Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe

Just like how her season has been like, the US Open Series was also a major disappointment for Cibulkova. She suffered early defeats at both the Rogers Cup and Western and Southern Open, being trounced by Lucie Safarova and Johanna Konta respectively. She was also vanquished by eventual champion Sloane Stephens at the US Open despite leading by a set in the final set.

Cibulkova’s season ended on a two-match losing streak, having failed to produce her best tennis at both the Wuhan Open and China Open. In a close affair, the Slovakian lost to eventual champion Caroline Garcia in Wuhan before she wasted a 5-0 lead in the first set against Elise Mertens, only to fall 6-7, 1-6 after just 82 minutes of play. That was her last match of the year, and she would definitely look to have a better 2018 as compared to this year.

Dominika Cibulkova suffered a disappointing exit at the hands of Sloane Stephens at Flushing Meadows | Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America
Dominika Cibulkova suffered a disappointing exit at the hands of Sloane Stephens at Flushing Meadows | Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images North America

Season Grade: B-

For a player of Cibulkova’s caliber, she would definitely be expecting more in terms of results. She has been lackluster in her performances throughout the year, though she managed to produce excellent displays occasionally. Nonetheless, she will head into the new year with a renewed mindset and extra motivation to work her way to the top once more.