Third seed and defending Toray Pan Pacific Open champion Caroline Wozniacki made it through to the semifinals of this year’s tournament on Friday, though she progressed due to unfortunate circumstances with Dominika Cibulkova retiring a break down in the decider.
Cibulkova, who had played some encouraging tennis this week after a tricky season to date, impressed in the first set and was four times a break up in the second set. The Slovak held two match points as she served for the win at 6-5 in the second, though Wozniacki fought back and took the tiebreak, eventually reaching the last four as the fifth seed was forced to retire with the score 3-6, 7-6(5), 3-1 in favor of the Dane.
The result has huge implications for Cibulkova, who retired with a right leg problem. The defending WTA Finals champion is now extremely unlikely to qualify for this year’s event, meaning her ranking could fall significantly by the end of the year. Meanwhile, a seventh semifinal of 2017 for Wozniacki means she is still well on track to make the season end finale for the first time since 2014.
Wozniacki will face world number one Garbine Muguruza in the last four. The two met in Miami earlier this season, with the Spaniard retiring down a set to the former world number one.
Wozniacki through as Cibulkova forced to quit
It is naturally always disappointing to see a player retire at any stage in the match, though Cibulkova’s retirement was particularly unfortunate due to the fact it had been preceded by some very entertaining tennis.
It was Wozniacki who immediately got off to the best start, breaking in the opening game, though Cibulkova was undeterred and quickly turned things around, taking four games in a row to take firm control of the set. The Dane remained solid on serve after that, though so did the Slovak and Cibulkova eventually took the first set with some ease.
The fifth seed then broke in the opening game of the second set and it seemed that she may be able to run away with the encounter, though the defending champion was able to break back. As the pressure mounted, the two traded breaks once more to go to 3-3, before both found rhythm on their serve once again as the set progressed.
Cibulkova had undoubtedly missed an opportunity, having led by a break three times, though showed no disappointment as she broke Wozniacki for a fourth time to serve for the match. The Slovak held two match points, though Wozniacki saved both and broke back to take the set to a tiebreak. The third seed was in control, building three set points, and took the third to take the encounter to a decider.
Perhaps buoyed by winning that second set, Wozniacki broke for a 2-1 lead early in the decider, though it was clear that her opponent was struggling physically, with Cibulkova taking a lengthy medical time out. The Dane held for 3-1, and that was the last action with the Slovak, unfortunately, deciding to call it a day after two hours and 27 minutes.