We all expected a thriller from the fourth-round Wimbledon encounter of Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska and we got even more than we asked for, as we were treated with three hours of ultimate tennis entertainment.
The 27-year-old Cibulkova relatively cruised through the first set, by virtue of a break in the fourth game that helped her quickly establish a 4-1 lead. The Slovak's forehands were more aggressive and effective than her opponent's and that made the difference in the 40-minute first set that the world No.18 won 6-3.
The 2016 Eastbourne champion Cibulkova, who beat Radwanska en route to that first grasscourt title of hers, was the one who had the upper hand at the start of the second set, going up a break 2-1. However, this time Radwanska broke back to level and that Cibulkova's inability to hold serve after earning a break turned out to be a recurrent theme in the match. Only in the second set Radwanska broke break three times immediately after dropping serve, including at 5-4 when Cibulkova served for victory. In that game Radwanska saved one match point and continued to battle to take the second set 7-5.
The deciding set spiced things up further. After yet another exchange of breaks initiated by Cibulkova, in the seventh and eighth games, the players were absolutely tied and nobody could predict the outcome. Every point was an intense battle and the momentum was constantly shifting. At 5-5 Cibulkova had several break points, but Radwanska fought them all off and at 6-5 earned a break and match point. The courageous Cibulkova didn't allow to be paralyzed by the nerves and image of her wasted opportunity in the first set and the Slovak kept the match exciting by leveling to 6-all.
Radwanska was a wall Cibulkova was trying to defeat and in the end the inspired Slovak did just that. Not demoralized by wasting her second match point that came an hour and a half after her first one, as the shot when just a bit long, Cibulkova finally held serve after earning a break, and won the third set 9-7. The climax of the match was so exhausting that Cibulkova could barely breath during her last few serves and when the victory was finally in her hands she fell on the grass and started shaking both from tiredness and happiness. (photos: Jimmie48)