STANFORD, Calif. — Dominika Cibulkova hopes her latest WTA Tour final goes better than her last. Agnieszka Radwanska would love to make her relive that nightmare.
Both will get the chance today.
Cibulkova coasted past Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0 in the Bank of the West Classic semifinals Saturday. A few hours later, the top-seeded Radwanska overcame a shaky start to beat American Jamie Hampton 6-3, 6-2 with relative ease.
The third-seeded Cibulkova has won twice on tour and last advanced to a final in January in Sydney, where she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Radwanska. It was the first whitewash in a final since November 2006 and only one in Cibulkova's career.
"Tennis is a lot about mentally," Cibulkova said. "If you will see that match, you will not believe it can be like that because I was putting pressure all the time. All the first six or seven games of that match I had game point or break point, and I just couldn't make it. It was like something really bad was happening. I was down 6-0, 3-0 and I was only thinking about one thing — just to make one game, and it didn't happen. It was really bad."
Now Cibulkova will have a chance for a double-dose of redemption.
Radwanska, ranked No. 4 in the world, has 12 singles titles — including 10 on hard court. She won back-to-back tournaments at Auckland and Sydney to start the year and hadn't advanced to a final since she crushed Cibulkova down under.
Radwanska regrouped against Hampton after dropping her serve twice in the first set, breaking back in the following game both times. The Wimbledon semifinalist earned the decisive break at 5-3 by forcing Hampton to sail a backhand long.
The smooth-swinging Polish player put away the match with an overhead winner for a service break at 2-1 in the second set, then pushed Hampton — who beat her earlier this year at Eastbourne — around the court to grab the next three games and set up a finals rematch.
In the semifinals, Cibulkova controlled the pace and played patient and near-perfect tennis against an opponent who folded fast. The third-seeded Cibulkova saved all six break points in the first set and often stayed back on the baseline waiting for Cirstea to make mistakes.
At Atlanta, top-seeded John Isner and second-seeded Kevin Anderson set up what Atlanta Open officials will be the "tallest" final in ATP Tour history.
The 6-foot-10 Isner beat Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) on Saturday, and the 6-8 Anderson topped American Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the night semifinal.
Isner is 5-3 as a pro against Anderson, and they played several times before that.
Isner lost in the Atlanta finals in 2010 and 2011 to fellow American Mardy Fish.
Isner took the first set against Hewitt, winning 88 percent of all points on first serve and 68 percent on second. The American had 10 of his 21 aces after ringing up 50 in his first two matches of the tournament.
Hewitt, the former world No. 1, began figuring out the booming serves and spinners, and broke Isner twice to win the second set.
Hewitt was not available after the match because he and countryman Chris Guccione were resting for a late doubles semifinal match against Britons Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray.
In the third set, the players stayed on serve until the tiebreaker, but not without scares. At 3-3, Isner fought off triple service break with five straight service winners.
He also survived a break before going up 6-5.
Isner took leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in the tiebreaker. Hewitt clawed back to 5-5 with one more serve.
After returning it, Isner moved forward. That had not worked well earlier as he'd bumped several short Hewitt volleys back into the net. But the big guy didn't want to bang balls back and forth.
A defensive backhand slice went hard left beyond Hewitt's to put Isner up 6-5.
When Hewitt sent Isner's next serve far wide right, the American pushed his ATP-best tiebreaker mark to 24-6 while Hewitt fell to 5-6.