Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It probably took longer than most expected, but Dominika Cibulkova will finally become the newest member of the Top 10 next week.
The 24-year-old rising star let the world know that she was a 'playa' back in January when she landed in her first-ever Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in Melbourne. She lost to veteran Chinese slugger Li Na in that particular finale (and also lost to Li in a semifinal at the big-money event in Miami this week).
Even though "Domi" keeps giving way to Li, the diminutive Slovak continues her ascent in the WTA rankings. She opened the year ranked 23rd in the world and has been a mainstay in and around the Top 30 since 2008. On three occasions she's finished a year inside the Top 20, and barring a monumental collapse or injury, she'll place inside that group once again.
So far this year Cibulkova is off to a 20-9 start and has already appeared in two finals. She couldn't get past the high-flying Li in Melbourne, but did manage to title in Acapulco earlier this month (albeit amid a soft field).
At the Aussie, Domi recorded no less than four upsets en route to the final, including a semifinal one against former Wimbledon runner-up Aga Radwanska and a fourth-rounder against former world No. 1 stud Maria Sharapova.
At Indian Wells in the California desert a couple weeks ago she ousted former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the fourth round before falling at the hands of Li in the quarters.
Note: Cibulkova's 0-3 versus Li for the year and 0-6 lifetime against the current world No. 2 star.
And this week at the Sony Open in Miami, the 5-foot-3 star upset Radwanska once again, this time in the quarters, and also outlasted former world No. 1 Venus Williams in a fourth-round affair.
Note: Prior to this year, Cibulkova had gone 1-5 against Radwanska. This year she's 2-0 versus the crafty Pole.
The smallish Cibulkova, as you would imagine, is known for her quick and aggressive style of play, which helped her become the first-ever Slovakian female player to reach the final of a major. And, of course, she prefers playing on clay and hard courts.
Unfortunately for Domi, a lowlight to the year thus far came in some Fed Cup play, when she lost both of her singles rubbers (against Top-10 star Angelique Kerber and former Top-10er Andrea Petkovic) in a quarterfinal matchup with visiting Germany in her beloved hometown of Bratislava.
A 10-year pro, Cibulkova has appeared in 10 career WTA finals, going 4-6, and pocketed just under $6 million in prize money, but hadn't played her best tennis at the majors before reaching that Aussie finale two months ago. She has, however, reached at least the quarterfinals at all four Slams, including a semifinal run at the French Open in 2009. As a matter of fact, she's reached at least the quarters in two of her last five trips to Roland Garros, but hasn't reached the final eight at Wimbledon since 2011 or the U.S. Open since 2010.
Maybe this year will be different.
In summation, the high-energy star is enjoying a breakthrough year.