No spam ever. Unsubscribe in one click. By submitting your email address, you indicate your consent to receiving email marketing messages from us.

Dominika Cibulkova vs Antonia Lottner WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch tennis live: Cibulkova starts Ricoh Open campaign and grass season against a qualifier

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 14 Jun 2017
  • World no. 6 Dominika Cibulkova faces qualifier Antonia Lottner in 's-Hertogenbosch
  • Cibulkova vs Lottner Ricoh Open tennis is live from 's-Hertogenbosch on Wednesday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST
Dominika Cibulkova (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Hoping to revive a dismal season, world no. 6 Dominika Cibulkova opens her Ricoh Open campaign against wildcard Antonia Lottner.

The WTA Tour’s return to grass courts is a mixed blessing for world no. 6 Dominika Cibulkova. On the negative side of the ledger, it means a lot of points to defend after Cibulkova’s very successful grass-court season in 2016, which saw her capture the title at the Premier-level Aegon International in Eastbourne, beating Karolina Pliskova, Jelena Ostapenko and Agnieszka Radwanska among others, and reach a first Wimbledon quarterfinal with an inspired, marathon win over Radwanska 9-7 in the third. 

On the other hand, a fresh start and some positive memories to draw on might be just what Cibulkova needs after what has been a frankly dismal season so far. It’s true that the Slovakian player’s sensational 2016 season set a very high mark: Starting the season at world no. 38 after having missed a lump of 2015 due to injury and dropping to world no. 66 after she failed to defend her Australian Open quarterfinal points, Cibulkova nevertheless finished 2016 at world no. 8 after titles in Katowice, Eastbourne and Linz, as well as runner-up finishes in Acapulco, Madrid and Wuhan. And then there was the WTA Finals Singapore, undoubtedly Cibulkova’s career peak so far (surpassing her run to the Australian Open final). At the season-ending championship, Cibulkova overcame a 1-2 record in the group stages, beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals and Angelique Kerber in the final to claim the title.

Cibulkova would rise to a career-high world no. 4 in March 2017 off the back of that result, but she has really struggled to back up her 2016 season and for no particularly obvious reason. In 11 events played so far in 2017, Cibulkova has made just two semifinals – at the Premier-level St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, where she lost to Yulia Putintseva, and at the Qatar Total Open where she lost to Karolina Pliskova – and bowed out of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami at the third round. On clay, Cibulkova fared worse, losing to qualifier Oceane Dodin in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open (where she was a finalist in 2016), Ekaterina Makarova in the first round in Rome and Tunisian Ons Jabeur in straight sets in the second round of Roland Garros. It was an impressive performance by Jabeur, but Cibulkova offered far too little resistance for a player whose entire career is predicated on her never-say-die spirit and on-court style.

Will Cibulkova turn things around on grass? She is returning to ‘s-Hertogenbosch for the first time in three years in an attempt to do so, having made the semifinals in 2011 and quarterfinals in 2010, 2012 and 2013 but lost her opening match to Yaroslava Shvedova in 2014.

First up for Cibulkova at the Ricoh Open is qualifier Antonia Lottner. Still just 20 years old, Lottner has been steadily working her way up the rankings with her eyes on the top 100. Over the course of 2016, she climbed from world no. 301 to world no. 181, winning ITF titles in Versmold and Prague and successfully qualified for the WTA Tour event in Nurnberg and the US Open, as well as making the Japan Open as a lucky loser.

Lottner lost both her matches in January, in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland and qualifying for the Australian Open (an unlucky draw against Lucie Hradecka) and didn’t play again until the end of March, when she lost to Belinda Bencic in the first round of an ITF. Lottner got her first wins of the season in April when she beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Richel Hogenkamp and Valeria Solovieva to qualify for the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne, but lost to Camila Giorgi in the first round. Lottner went on to lose in qualifying for Stuttgart, Prague and Roland Garros, and in the first round of the Trnava $100k ITF event (to Jabeur no less), but qualified for the Ricoh Open in straight sets, beating Erika Vogelsang and Amra Sadikovic to reach the main draw in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

This will be Lottner’s first meeting with a top-10 player – she has never even taken a set from a player ranked inside the top 50, and has never beaten a player ranked inside the top 80. But there are factors on her side, apart from Cibulkova’s poor season: Mainly the fact that as a qualifier, she’s already attuned to grass courts and to the conditions in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It’s unlikely to be enough for the world no. 161 to beat the world no. 6, even if the transition from clay to grass generally does throw up a few bizarre results.

Cibulkova vs Lottner is scheduled on Centre Court in ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Wednesday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST 

Share this with your friends

Your comments:

Dominika Cibulkova vs Antonia Lottner WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch tennis live: Cibulkova starts Ricoh Open campaign and grass season against a qualifier

Top seed Dominika Cibulkova looks to revive her season on grass as she starts her ‘WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch campaign against qualifier Antonia Lottner: Ricoh Open tennis live from ‘s-Hertogenbosch

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages