Australian Open 2014: Underdog Dominika Cibulkova upsets Agnieszka Radwanska to set-up final against Li Na

Semi-final thrashing came after Na saw off 19-year-old sensation Eugenie Bouchard with the pair set to collide on Saturday

Melbourne Park

Marion Bartoli may have retired, but the Wimbledon champion’s spirit survives in the shape of one of her best friends. Dominika Cibulkova, who will meet Li Na in Saturday’s women’s singles final here at the Australian Open, revealed that she had been inspired by Bartoli’s success at Wimbledon last summer.

Cibulkova, who will become the first Slovakian to play in a Grand Slam final, extended her remarkable run of results by beating the world No 5, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-1, 6-2 in just 70 minutes. The world No 24 had also beaten higher-ranked opponents in her three previous matches, knocking out Carla Suarez Navarro, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep.

“Marion was a big inspiration,” Cibulkova said. “We are very close friends. When she won Wimbledon I knew she was working so hard for it. She was the one who deserved it so much. When she won Wimbledon, I knew everything is possible.”

Bartoli, who retired within weeks of the greatest win of her career, has been here working for television and has been encouraging Cibulkova. “Straight after my semi-final she came into the gym to see me,” Cibulkova said. “She hugged me. We were both  crying. She was so happy  for me.”

Radwanska had beaten Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, in the previous round but was given the run-around by Cibulkova, who chased down every shot and hit a succession of winners from both flanks. Radwanska admitted that previous efforts had taken their toll and said it had felt as if she was playing in slow motion.

 

Cibulkova reached the semi-finals of the French Open five years ago but her achievements since then have been modest. At 5ft 3in she is one of the smallest players in the modern game, but proved with her aggressive play against Radwanska that she still packs a big punch.

“It’s not about how tall you are,” Cibulkova said. “Even if you are tall, it doesn’t mean that you are 100 per cent going to make it. It’s just you have to really want something and just believe in it. There is nothing more important than this.”

Li, who beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 in her semi-final, will go into Saturday’s match as the favourite. The 31-year-old Chinese has an excellent record here, having finished runner-up in 2011 and 2013, and also has a Grand Slam title under her belt. In 2011, she became the first Asian player of either sex to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the French Open.

Bouchard rarely threatened after making a dreadful start, losing 20 of the first 23 points in just 14 minutes. Li, who saved a match point against Lucie Safarova in the third round, had to work harder in the second set but still ran out a comfortable winner.

Cibulkova has lost all four of her matches against Li but after her performances here she will not be lacking in confidence. “You need to be 100 per cent sure you can do it,” she said. “I know I can do it. It’s big pressure to play in a final, but I still want to enjoy it on the court. I don’t want to suffer on the court.”

Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living