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Tennis - Cibulkova comes from behind to reach Strasbourg final

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(Reuters) – Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova battled back from a set and a break down to beat Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 2-6 7-6(5) 6-1 and secure her place in the Strasbourg International final on Friday.

The fifth seed will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the title, after the Russian’s opponent, top seed Ashleigh Barty, retired due to injury in the other semi-final.

Buzarnescu had the upper hand initially as the two went toe-to-toe from the baseline, and the Romanian fourth seed controlled the opening points with ease, moving her opponent around the court and using the drop shot to devastating effect.

In contrast, Cibulkova struggled with her serve, winning 29 percent of her first serve points in the opening set. Her woes continued into the second, and she soon found herself battling to stay in the match at 5-3 down.

Few would have foreseen the turnaround that was to follow.

Cibulkova’s serve finally surfaced and she held to draw within a game of her opponent, while Buzarnescu’s composure deserted her as she made a series of errors that allowed the Slovak to break and draw level at 5-5.

The set went to a tiebreak and Cibulkova scrapped ferociously to force the deciding set, before coasting to victory in clinical style, winning 71 percent of her first serves and making only three unforced errors in the final set.

Third seed Pavlyuchenkova progressed after Barty retired while trailing the Russian 6-4 1-0.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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