The Telegraph
Friday , January 24 , 2014
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Slovak living her big dream

When 24-year-old Dominika Cibulkova came into the Australian Open, she was ranked 24 in the world. No one thought, least of all her, that she will make it to the final. But on Thursday, she reached her first ever Grand Slam final, humbling Agnieszka Radwanska. And now she is ready to play “the biggest match of my life”.

Did she expect it? “You know, not at all… I was just trying to focus on my game. Since the first point till the last point of the match I was just trying to do the right things,” she was quoted as saying in the, the official website of the season’s first Grand Slam.

The surprise package of the tournament won by scorelines that were termed as “ridiculous”.

“When you look at it this way, it is nice for me. I didn’t spend so much time on the court. I’m in the final of Grand Slam. The only three set match was against Sharapova. That’s something unbelievable,” she said.

Happy with her current form, she is not unduly perturbed about not being in the top 10.

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. So many years everybody kept telling me that I should be in top 10… I’m just not. If I play like this, yeah, it might happen.”

Cibulkova believes that she had the fire and energy to make it big from her childhood. “I have it since I was little kid, you know. When I play my best tennis, that’s where you can see the power and the fight.

“You have to have something extra if you want to be one of the best tennis players and you are not the tallest, as I said,” she said, voicing her determination to overcome the fact that she is a “small” player physically.

Looking forward to the excitement of the final, she said: “It will be my first Grand Slam final. You know, I’m still enjoying my win over Radwanska. It’s good to have one more day, you know… I want to enjoy it for a few hours. Then, I am going to prepare for the final.”

And she is aware that Li Na will be no easy meat. “ She has been in the finals of Grand Slam many times. She has won a Grand Slam title, so she know how it is. I’m playing the final… It’s like a dream. So I will go just out there and play my best, try to do my best.”

Her close friend Marion Bartoli has always been a big inspiration and Cibulkova feels that she deserved to win the Wimbledon title as she had worked very hard for it. And she is at Melbourne to support her friend.

“Straight after my semi-final, she came into the gym to me. She hugged me. We were both crying. She was so happy for me.”

Cibulkova had played a match every other day in this tournament, until Thursday. Asked whether it was hard not getting a day off she said: “Yeah, it was a little bit different because, you know, I came into the semi-finals. It was big thing for me. There was no time to really enjoy, you know, to process it all.

“After two hours, I did my media, I already had to deal with my head on that match, on today’s match, so I could be 100 per cent That’s what I did. That’s why I’m happy I have a day off tomorrow. It will be little bit easier.”

She, however, doesn’t have any special plans for the day of the final, and will stick to her routine.

“The same thing what I'm doing here for two weeks, you know. I will sleep a little longer and then go for practice...

“Lunch on the courts, then some relaxing in the hotel… Evening my mind is going to be on the final. I want to be 100 per cent. It will be the biggest match of my life.”