Montenegro's Danka Kovinic beat Belgian youngster An-Sophie Mestach in the first round of the rain-hit Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. - SS KANESAN/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: The erratic weather has done nothing to dampen world No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova’s spirits as she seeks to build on a fantastic start to the year at the BMW Malaysian Open tennis championship.
The tournament, which is held at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC), was hit by delays following heavy rain and thunder in the capital on Monday.
The 24-year-old Cibulkova, who made a breakthrough this year by reaching the Australian Open final in January before losing to China’s Li Na, is optimistic of her chances of winning here despite having her practice session postponed due to the rain.
“It’s a shame that it’s raining on the first day, but I knew what to expect as I had checked out the weather forecast before I arrived here,” said the Slovak.
“I’m still suffering from jet-lag. But that’s how it is and we just have to get used to it. But I am looking forward to this tournament, this being my first time appearance in Malaysia. After a great start to the year, I’m hoping to build on what I have already achieved.”
The 1.6m Cibulkova won her first title of the year at the Mexican Open in Acapulco in February. She also reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Miami Masters and Indian Wells Masters respectively.
“The Australian Open was a great confidence boost for me. I also did quite well in Miami and Indian Wells, so I’m feeling ready,” said Cibulkova who has four WTA Tour titles.
“It was also good to get a win in Acapulco and I’m hoping to do the same here too.
“There’s still a bit of work for me though ... areas of my game that need improvements. A lot has been said about my serve, which I think is great for my height.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m working on that and a few other areas too,” added Cibulkova who will face Turkish qualifier Pemra Ozgen in the first round on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Danka Kovinic of Montenegro earned a spot in the second round after a gritty 6-4, 6-2 win over Belgian youngster An-Sophie Mestach. It was the only singles match completed yesterday.
“The first set was really tough because play was suspended twice and we were delayed for three hours. It was not easy waiting and then going back on court to start all over again,” said Kovinic who has six International Tennis Federation (ITF) titles to her name.
“Plus I’m really tired ... having travelled straight from my previous tournament in Bogota (Colombia) last Thursday, and only arrived on Sunday night. But I’m happy to win because this is just the kind of result that I need to maybe break into the top 100 this year,” said the world No.140.
Kovinic, who idolises former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, will meet either fourth seed Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria or Japanese qualifier Eri Hozumi in the second round.