8 February 2017 – DUBAI, UAE: Dominika Cibulkova will be seeking to kick-start her season when she bids for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in just under two weeks’ time.
Cibulkova is part of an incredible world-class field that includes seven of the world's top 10, headed by world number two and two-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber; 2016 US Open finalist and world number three Karolina Pliskova; French Open champion Garbine Muguruza; three-time Dubai finalist and double Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and recent Sydney winner Johanna Konta.
The diminutive holder of the WTA Finals trophy suffered a disappointing Australian campaign, winning only four of her seven matches. But her confidence remains high following a stunning career-best 2016 season during which her ranking soared into the top five, she earned titles in Katowice, Eastbourne and Linz as well as in Singapore, and she reached the finals of Acapulco, Madrid and Wuhan.
But with success comes the added pressure not only of being a prime target of her opponents hoping to score a headline-grabbing victory over a top player, but dealing with the expectation from many of her fans that she can now win every match.
"This is my highest ranking," said the world number five as her 2017 season got underway. "Yeah, you can feel the expectation and the pressure. This is something I'm trying to deal with. You know, I'm first time in this situation, but I have my rituals, what I do during the match, and I just want to focus on tennis, you know, on the tactics. You put away the wrong thoughts you have on the court, like, I should win, or, I don't want to lose. You just put it away, and you focus on the right things."
The defiant Slovak will be determined to improve on her record in Dubai. She failed to qualify during her first visit in 2007, had to retire during her third round match in 2009 and she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the second round in 2010. In the following three years she failed to win a match, having to retire again in 2012. Now she returns to Dubai for the first time since 2013 as a potential champion.
"Dominika Cibulkova always displays enormous passion and determination in every match she plays," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers." Not only does that make her a very entertaining player to watch, her efforts have over the last 12 months especially been justly rewarded. We are delighted to welcome her back to Dubai and wish her every success."
She may be at 5'3" the smallest player ever to be ranked in the top 10, but what she lacks in height is more than outweighed by her intensity.
"Actually every player has different level of emotions and intensity when they play their best tennis," she said. "Me, I have to be like this on the court. I have to be pumped and sometimes when I win a game I run to the bench and I just talk to myself. These are the things that keep me focused, the things what I can put negative thoughts out of my head. This is the way I am."
Action gets underway first with the WTA event on 19 February, followed by the 25th staging of the ATP World tour event from 27th February. The ATP line-up includes world number one Andy Murray; Australian Open champion and seven-time Dubai winner Roger Federer; Dubai defending champion, winner of three Grand Slams and world number three Stan Wawrinka; two time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the entertaining world number nine Gael Monfils.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which takes place between 19 February and 4 March, is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for every day of the event including the finals are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are also available online through www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.