Cibulkova retires aged 30

November 12, 2019

The 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova has announced her retirement at the age of 30

Cibulkova has not played on the WTA Tour since the French Open due to an recurring Achilles injury.

The former world number four, a runner-up in her only grand slam final at the Australian Open five years ago, decided Roland Garros would be her swansong and is ready for life after tennis.

"It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament." Cibulkova said in her WTA exit interview.

"At that point, I was 100 per cent sure. I wasn't doubting or thinking 'maybe yes or no.' I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament.

"I went home and was happy with my decision. It's really hard to make it, but once you do, you feel more free.

"I feel like this life has been fulfilled for me, and I want to start a new one."

World number two Karolina Pliskova has confirmed she has split from her coach Conchita Martinez.

Former Wimbledon champion Martinez, who was second in the world herself during her playing career, started working with Pliskova on a full-time basis 10 months ago.

The Czech won four WTA titles in 2019 - the joint-most on the tour - but failed to make it beyond the fourth round of a grand slam after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

Last week, Pliskova was beaten in the last four of the season-ending WTA Finals by Ashleigh Barty.

"I decided I will no longer work with Conchita," Pliskova wrote on her social media accounts.

"It was tough decision, as the season was great. Thank you for all this year, and wish you only the best. Life is a change!"

Martinez, who coached Garbine Muguruza when she won Wimbledon in 2017, also posted a message on social media.

"Just a little note to inform you that Karolina and I have decided to take different paths next year," she said.

"It has been an incredible year full of great moments and emotions. I wish Kaja and her team the best for the future."

Kim Clijsters will not make her comeback at the start of next season due to a knee injury but remains as "determined as ever" to play at the highest level again.

The four-time grand slam champion sprung a major surprise in September by announcing she was coming out of retirement at the age of 36.

However, Clijsters on Monday revealed her WTA Tour return will have to wait.

"I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January. I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury," she tweeted.

"It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."

The Belgian, a mother of three, retired in 2012 after winning 41 singles titles. 

Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wildcards at WTA tournaments as a former world number one, but she will have to play three tournaments or earn 10 points to re-establish a ranking.

Ashleigh Barty was struggling to make sense of the "bizarre" experience of winning the WTA Finals after her straight-sets victory over Elina Svitolina.

The Australian capped the greatest season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday, collecting $4.42million after dethroning the 2018 winner.

It was a superb display from the French Open champion, who had suffered a group-stage loss to Kiki Bertens in China.

Asked to reflect on how her success felt, the world number one said: "Bizarre, if I'm being completely honest. 

"It feels like it's been a year that just hasn't stopped. It's been a year of incredible ups and downs – I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night in Shenzhen is really cool.

"To come through a week like this, you have to beat the best of the best. It takes me back to some memories in Miami where I felt like I did that for the first time, beating back-to-back top-10 players, having that really consistent week.

"I've grown and developed so much since that fortnight in Miami. To be able to bounce back after the disappointment after my match with Kiki [Bertens] was really important."

World number one Ashleigh Barty dethroned Elina Svitolina with a straight-sets victory to secure a maiden WTA Finals title and record prize money.

Barty put the icing on the cake at the end of the best season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday.

The French Open champion ended her 2018 campaign by claiming the WTA Elite Trophy and showed the huge strides she has made by lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy 12 months later.

Top seed Barty started the year 15th in the rankings and ends it as the best in the world with a first grand slam under her belt, also picking up $4.42million for her triumph in China.

Svitolina's bank account would have been swelled to the tune of $4.73m if she had retained the title, but the eighth seed had to settle for $2.4m following her first defeat of the tournament.

Australian Barty was a bundle of energy throughout a hard-fought championship match, hitting 30 winners and coming from a break down in the second set to win her fourth event in 2019.

Barty charged into the net with purpose in a positive start and there were no signs of nerves from Svitolina, who blasted down an ace for a hold to love in her opening service game.

Both players mixed up their approach in a tight opening set and it was not until the ninth game that the first break point came, Barty fending that off before taking a 5-4 lead.

Svitolina was under pressure at 0-30 down in the next game and Barty wrapped up the opening set with a rasping forehand return winner after a benefiting from a huge slice of luck from the net cord.

The favourite gifted Svitolina a break for a 2-1 lead in the second with a double fault after a string of backhand errors but hit straight back to level with an overhead volley.

Barty was in the ascendancy, prowling around the court with great athleticism to force the world number eight onto the back foot and a first double fault from the defending champion left her 4-2 down.

Svitolina was not going to relinquish her title without a fight, though, and was back on serve when Barty sent a backhand wide, but she failed to hold for the third game in a row.

Barty grasped her chance to serve out the match, closing it out with a hold to love.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina for the WTA Finals title after both players came from a set down in their last-four contests.

Barty, who is aiming to round off comfortably the best year of her career with a maiden WTA Finals triumph, beat Karolina Pliskova 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the second semi-final in Shenzhen.

The French Open champion thumped 36 winners and saved all but one of the 12 break points she faced, yet she will have to break new ground in order to deny Svitolina a successful title defence.

Svitolina, who is remarkably set to play in her first final of 2019, has won all five of the pair's previous meetings.

The Ukrainian held a 5-7 6-3 4-1 lead when her semi-final rival, Belinda Bencic, retired due to cramping.

"You never want to finish the match and to see your opponent retiring," said Svitolina in an on-court interview. "It's very tough for her, especially at the end of the season, one of the biggest tournaments. Hopefully she can recover and be strong for next year.

"When I was coming to this tournament, definitely I was expecting very tough matches. It's the last tournament of the season, tomorrow [Sunday] is the last match of the season finally! It's going to be a tough one but I'm going to leave everything on the court to try to raise the cup again."

"I really didn't want to retire," Bencic said in a news conference. "I wanted to finish the match, but it was not possible. I'm really disappointed."

Simona Halep believes she deserved the blunt criticism after coach Darren Cahill labelled the Wimbledon champion a "disgrace" during her WTA Finals defeat to Karolina Pliskova.

World number five Halep slipped to a 6-0 2-6 6-4 loss on Friday, as her season came to an end in disappointing fashion.

During a courtside discussion with her coach, midway through the deciding set, Cahill condemned the 28-year-old's performance by saying: "The last three games you have been an absolute disgrace on court."

Cahill's tough words did not have the desired effect, with Pliskova going on to progress to the semi-finals where world number one Ashleigh Barty awaits her.

Halep, however, has conceded her coach was right to be so harsh on her.

"I'm pretty sure that I deserved it because I was not calm," Halep said in a news conference, according to WTA Insider.

"I changed something in my attitude.

"Everyone knows that I'm working on that. I was a little bit p***** at myself that I did that. I'm sure that I made him p***** also."

Since her superb run to Wimbledon glory, former world number one Halep has failed to find her best form, only making it into the last eight in one of the five tournaments she has participated in since July.

Simona Halep was branded an "absolute disgrace" by coach Darren Cahill as Karolina Pliskova came out on top in a crucial round-robin WTA Finals clash to reach the last four.

Pliskova and Halep went into the last Purple Group contest in Shenzhen on Friday knowing the winner would face top seed Ashleigh Barty at the semi-final stage and the loser's season was over.

Halep fought back following the humiliation of a first-set bagel, but Pliskova came from a break down in the final set to win 6-0 2-6 6-4.

The Wimbledon champion rallied following some words of wisdom from Cahill at the end of the first set, but the Australian said she had been "an absolute disgrace" over a critical three-game spell during another on-court coaching session after she squandered a lead in the final set.

Second seed Pliskova blew away an out-of-sorts Halep in the first set, the Czech losing just two service points after an aggressive start.

A forehand into the net put Halep a break down and Pliskova continued to return with vigour, toying with the Romanian as she took just 21 minutes to wrap up the set.

Halep heeded Cahill's advice by using more spin and taking pace of the ball as she broke in the opening game of the second set and showed character to edge a break up at 3-2 after Pliskova got back on serve.

Pliskova was unable to halt Halep's momentum and the fifth seed levelled the match with an ace before taking a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Yet Pliskova responded by winning five games in a row, peppering Halep with searing ground strokes and coming to the net at every opportunity.

Cahill's harsh words at 3-2 failed to prompt a positive reaction from Halep, and although she was able to get back on serve at 5-4, she was broken for the third time in the final set and bowed out when Pliskova had fortune with a netcord winner.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina earlier made it three wins out of three with a 7-5 7-6 (12-10) defeat of alternate Sofia Kenin and will take on Belinda Bencic for a place in the final.

World number one Ashleigh Barty booked her place in the WTA Finals semi-finals, before Belinda Bencic profited as Naomi Osaka's injury replacement Kiki Bertens also retired.

Barty, a debutant at the season-ending tournament, like Bencic, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 to bounce back from defeat to Bertens in her second Red Group match.

The French Open champion made light work of sixth-ranked Kvitova in Thursday's first encounter.

Needing a victory to guarantee her progress, Barty claimed her first win over the Czech in five attempts in confident fashion.

After a break of serve midway through the opening set saw the Australian edge in front, she wrapped up the second in less than 40 minutes with a third match point.

While Kvitova had already been eliminated ahead of facing Barty, the other match was a straight shoot-out for a last-four place between Bencic and Bertens.

And it was the Swiss, having denied Bertens a place in the original field with her victory in Moscow this month, who advanced due to her opponent's retirement with illness.

Bencic started on the front foot but, after failing to take advantage of her first two break points, fell behind at 3-2.

Yet Bencic responded in impressive fashion to take four successive games and the set, before Bertens, who had taken a medical timeout, stated she could not continue, trailing 7-5 1-0.

Barty and Bencic will learn the identity of their semi-final opponents on Friday, with defending champion Elina Svitolina through in the Purple Group as Simona Halep plays Karolina Pliskova for the opportunity to join her.

Bianca Andreescu is confident she made the right call to retire from her WTA Finals match against Karolina Pliskova as she prepares for a scan on her left knee.

The US Open champion fell to a third consecutive defeat, following a sequence of 17 straight wins, as she quit the Purple Group clash with Pliskova after losing the first set 6-3.

Andreescu had been badly hobbling since early in the match when she "heard a crack" as she returned the ball while up a break.

She initially refused to retire but, speaking afterwards, having confirmed her intention to have an MRI on Thursday, the 19-year-old was content with her decision.

"I stepped weirdly on a return," Andreescu told a post-match press conference. "I heard my knee crack. It kind of went inwards.

"Putting pressure afterwards on it really bothered me. I could barely bend my knee. But I fought with the pain as much as I could. 

"At some point, an athlete has to say, 'Stop', and just listen to their body. That's what I did.

"It's disappointing because this is the last tournament of the year, so you want to go all out. You're playing one of the biggest tournaments of the year, too. It's not easy.

"I've never had a during-match injury happen before - other than spraining my ankle, but that was back in 2015.

"Honestly, I really didn't know what to do. I've fought through pain before, but this was different. It was like very acute.

"But it's the last tournament of the year. I just told myself, 'Push it as much as you can. You're going to have a good break after this.' Maybe I could have pushed it more. I don't know. 

"My team said no. It was good that I stopped. Honestly, I could have kept going. If I did, then I would just be whining on the court. I don't want that. I've done that enough."

Andreescu's defeat to Pliskova saw her hopes of progress end at the season-ending Finals, meaning she can decide whether to face Elina Svitolina, who is already through, to conclude her breakout campaign.

Canadian Andreescu won titles in 2019 at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and Flushing Meadows, climbing to number four in the WTA rankings.

Bianca Andreescu failed to shake off a knee injury as she fell to a third straight defeat and departed the WTA Finals, where defending champion Elina Svitolina advanced from the Purple Group.

US Open champion Andreescu, still just 19, had been enjoying an incredible 17-match winning run on the WTA Tour until coming up short in a gripping encounter against Naomi Osaka at the China Open.

The Canadian did not play again until this week's year-end Finals, making a losing return in a narrow defeat to idol Simona Halep.

And any hopes of Andreescu arresting that mini-slump were ended by an issue with her left knee in Shenzhen as she bowed out to world number two Karolina Pliskova.

Andreescu, needing to win to stay in the tournament, broke in the first game of the match but was soon limping, retreating to her seat and calling a medical timeout.

Heavy strapping was applied to the teenager's knee, yet she continued to move uneasily as she sought to continue, seeing Pliskova break back immediately.

Andreescu told Sylvain Bruneau she "heard a crack" and was struggling to bend her knee but insisted she was still capable of beating Pliskova despite the advice of her coach.

"I don't want to stop," she said. "If it was against Simona, then okay. But [Pliskova] misses."

Andreescu showed grit to then hold after saving three break points, but it was only a temporary reprieve as Pliskova sent down a backhand return to seize the advantage in her opponent's next service game.

Pliskova held to take the set 6-3 and Andreescu finally gave in, retiring for a defeat that sees her out of the competition as the Czech faces Halep for a place in the last four.

Halep had wasted an opportunity to book her spot in the semi-finals early on Wednesday when she was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Svitolina.

The Wimbledon champion battled back from 3-0 down early on but then missed the chance to break in front with a poor call on a drop shot, subsequently losing the opener with an error-strewn final service game.

Having been behind throughout the first set, Halep led in the second with a break to love but was quickly pegged back, soon complaining to coach Darren Cahill that she felt unable to disrupt Svitolina's game.

Svitolina, who defeated Sloane Stephens in the 2018 final, preyed on more Halep mistakes to break in front and wrapped up a relatively comfortable triumph in straight sets.

Kiki Bertens admitted she was quite content sitting on the couch before making a stunning start to the WTA Finals when she was called in as a last-minute alternate.

The Dutchwoman replaced Naomi Osaka after the Japanese injured her shoulder and swiftly made an impact in the Red Group, defeating world number one Ashleigh Barty.

It was a fine display from Bertens in Shenzhen as she battled from a set down to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4, securing a first win over Barty at the sixth attempt. 

"I was okay sitting on the couch," she laughed when asked about her whirlwind day on Tuesday.

"I was really tired. But then yesterday I just hit for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better.

"Of course, it's not like after one day that you're completely back in full energy. As the match was continuing, I felt better and better.

"The movement was getting a bit better. I was starting to feel the court. I could play a little bit more aggressive, come to the net."

Naomi Osaka does not believe the shoulder injury that forced her out of the WTA Finals will require surgery.

The two-time grand slam champion withdrew from the season-ending tournament in Shenzhen on Tuesday due to an issue with her right shoulder.

Osaka revealed she was troubled by the injury during her China Open triumph this month but hopes rest and rehabilitation in the off season will get her back to full fitness.

"I didn't serve for a while when I was in Japan," said Osaka, who was replaced by Kiki Bertens at the showpiece in China.

"I just started serving [in] the last two days. Felt better, came here, then I played my match [a victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday]. I felt it immediately. When I woke up the day after, it was throbbing and stuff. Yeah, I didn't serve at all [on Monday]."

The former world number one added: "I injured my shoulder like five years ago or something, but not badly. It was in Thailand when I was like 17 or something. It wasn't that big of a deal. I just had to rest it. I'm hoping it's more like that.

"It doesn't feel like it's anything more serious than muscular. I think if it was like bone-related then I wouldn't be able to lift it, but I am able to do that. It's just a little bit painful.

"Definitely I don't think it's something that I would immediately need surgery for. I've never had surgery, so I feel like I'm very lucky on that. I'm not really hoping that will change any time soon."

World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

Bertens was called in to take Naomi Osaka's spot after the Japanese suffered a right shoulder injury and the Dutchwoman promptly made an impact in the Red Group.

After losing the first set, Bertens battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Shenzhen, claiming her first win over Barty at the sixth attempt.

Barty, who came from a set down to win her opening match against Belinda Bencic, was the first player to qualify for the season-ending tournament back in early September but she failed to justify her tag as favourite for the title in a largely disjointed display.

It was a contest in which breaks of serve were frequent and a run of five defined the opener, Barty edging that back-and-forth to nudge ahead.

She was a break up in the second as a similar pattern emerged, but a first-serve percentage of just 41 was always likely to prove problematic and Bertens was producing more winners to further tip the balance in her favour.

With Barty serving at 4-3 down, Bertens sensed her opportunity and was the primary aggressor, striking for the lines and putting the French Open champion on the back foot.

Having fought to take the contest into a third set, Bertens was in no mood to relent and she stormed into a 4-0 lead, even fluffing two break-point openings to make it 5-0.

Despite a rally that saw the gap cut to 4-3, the die was cast and Barty was consigned to defeat in a clash that lasted over two hours.

World number three Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen due to a right shoulder injury.

The Japanese opened her campaign with a three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday but has deemed herself unfit to take part in her second Red Group match against Ash Barty on Tuesday.

She will be replaced by Kiki Bertens.

In a statement, Osaka said: "I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the Finals.

"It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year. This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year."

Osaka ends her year on an 11-match unbeaten run having not tasted defeat since her US Open title defence ended at the hands of Belinda Bencic at the round of 16 stage in September.

Since then, the 22-year-old has registered title wins in Osaka and Beijing.

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