Cibulkova in Hobart tennis semi-final

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Cibulkova in Hobart tennis semi-final

Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova has overcome the most challenging playing conditions of her career to reach the semi-final of the Hobart International.

Against Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens on Thursday, the world No.37 was victorious 7-5 6-3 in a rain-interrupted match that spanned more than seven hours including three lengthy suspensions.

“The conditions were really tough,” the 26-year-old said.

“I don’t remember that I have such tough conditions and match and starting and stopping so many times and today was really a mental thing.

“I came back three times on the court and I won even stronger than I was before.”

After a two-hour rain suspension with the score at 5-5, the weather cleared long enough for one game and then players again left the court for two hours.

But the delays didn’t distract Cibulkova who needs match time ahead of her Australian Open campaign and says she’s pleased with her form.

“This is why I came here, to get some more matches under my belt and that’s what has happening so this is giving me a lot of confidence.”

In 2014, Cibulkova reached the final of the Melbourne grand slam and last year was knocked out of the quarter-finals by Serena Williams.

She is now in the semi-finals in Hobart along with France’s Alize Cornet, who progressed on Thursday when her opponent Mona Barthel withdrew due to a lower back injury.

The German world No.45 was forced to abandon the tournament where she was champion in 2012.

There is uncertainty over her fitness ahead of the Open, where she made the second round in 2015.

Barthel, 25, had to resort to painkillers on Wednesday to complete her match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, after feeling a pinch that she had not experienced before.

She had hoped intense treatment would mean she could contest her quarter-final scheduled for late Thursday, but withdrew several hours beforehand.

Weather delays have pushed back the order of play with defending champion Heather Watson still to complete her rain-delayed round-two match against Romanian Monica Niculescu.

The pair were forced to abandon play on Wednesday night at 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 1-3 with Watson leading in the third, as thunderstorms passed over the southern capital.

The schedule also includes former world No.5 Eugenie Bouchard’s meeting with tournament No.2 seed Camila Giorgi.

The winner of Watson and Niculescu is due to face Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

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