Cibulkova beat Sharapova in three sets. (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
After winning her fourth round clash against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, Dominika Cibulkova wondered if the Russian had been trying to put her off by repeatedly catching her service ball toss.
Cibulkova was able to progress with a three set victory over the Career Grand Slam holder but later revealed that she'd found Sharapova's ball toss to be somewhat unnerving. Sharapova had been frequently catching her ball toss for her serve, and whilst she's been known to do this in the past, Cibulkova suspected that the Russian may have been trying to distract her by doing it on Sunday.
“During the serve she was playing with the toss and all these things to make me wait for the serve a lot,” said Cibulkova. “I think she was trying to do a lot with the rhythm and to not let me go in my rhythm. When the match was coming to the end, I was getting like a little bit angry about that, I was keep talking myself, like, ‘Why she doing that?’ I thought it was on the purpose."
"But it was just maybe few seconds I let my thinking go away. But that's what I was also working on during my preseason, to let me stay focused and not to let me thoughts go away.”
Cibulkova had her suspicions but did not accuse Sharapova of gamesmanship outright. When asked if she thought that Sharapova had been employing underhand tactics she answered, "I don't know.”
“There are many ways that you can beat a player. She knew that I am playing well. I was playing well through the whole tournament. She knew it for sure. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she was just really feeling nervous on the serve and not doing the toss thing on the purpose. But I think it was something about tactic.”