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October 22, 2016

Dominika Cibulkova

Kallang, Singapore

THE MODERATOR: Dominika will open play tomorrow night against world No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the red group.


Q. You've obviously had your chase to get to Singapore for a while now; you tried to get here a couple times. What does it mean to be here and what's it been like so far?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, I was pretty happy to finish it with a title in Linz. You know, it was really important for me that I won there. It's not every day happening that I'm coming to the tournament and I have to win it to get somewhere and I'm actually winning the tournament.

It was just a great week for me, and all happened so quickly. In two days I flew here. It feels so good to be here. You know, it was something I was really looking forward for few years. It feels like dreams come true to be here.

Q. What was the key for you to jump back as you won the comeback award as well?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, there was a lot of hard work, a lot of hard work, and it was just -- you know, after the injury I have to say it was really hard. Everybody knows who's coming back from the injury that it's not easy. When your ranking drops, you know, you have to go it seems like again.

So it wasn't easy. I wasn't seeded at the tournaments. But, you know, I had just one big goal: to comeback. I did everything for it. That's what just happened. You know, I add to my team an extra person. I'm working with a mental coach that is really, really helpful.

You know, it's just all the small details comes together.

Q. You don't usually get to start the week with a trophy and you got your award yesterday. Curious how special that made last night's experience and what that experience was like for you?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, it was great experience. I was really looking forward for yesterday. We were all looking nice in the dresses. We took the picture and then there was a gala dinner. Yeah, end up that I got the trophy, the award. Yeah, I was pretty excited. My parents, I took my parents here with me, so it was just really nice evening we had yesterday.

I just can't wait for tomorrow to start the tournament.

Q. As we go into the season-ending finals, how would you describe your season?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, I would say it was so far the best season I ever had. You know, obviously ending up here must have been the best one.

But I can say also it was very tiring. I played so many matches, so many tournaments. Now I know how the best players feels in the end of the season, because you play so many more matches.

It's just really, really tiring, much more than when you -- because when you play matches it makes you tired more. You can practice, practice, and it just doesn't make you so tired. The matches really emotionally and physically and mentally just takes your energy away.

Q. You are the shortest player in the group and you've been drawn with big hitters like Madison and Angelique. Have you thought about how you're going to counter the big hitters' style?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, I would say I'm the shortest everywhere I go, so I'm used to it. That's the way I am. Yeah, you know, I know my opponent from yesterday, Angelique Kerber, she's No. 1 in the world.

I'm really looking forward for this match. I want to get ready 100%, and I want to have a good start of the tournament. I've never been here so it's a new experience for me. I want to go there and give 100% on the court, and let's see what's going to happen.

I'm still trying to get used to the balls, the surface. This tournament is much different than all the others. You can lose some and win some and still go forward.

Yeah, I want to start my journey here really good tomorrow.

Q. Is it the easiest or the toughest start to play Angelique Kerber, the No. 1, in the first match?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: I mean, the fact that I'm playing world No. 1, so there cannot be nothing -- there cannot be tougher first round, I would say. But all the eight girls are just the best girls this year, so I think here you cannot choose I want to play this one or this one.

It's just everybody is just having a great season, playing their best tennis. And, yeah, playing Angelique I will give everything tomorrow on the court.

Q. When you look back at the season, what's the highest emotion that you felt on the court this year? What was maybe the toughest?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Toughest I have to say the match against Radwanska we played in Wimbledon. I think it was one the best matches in my career. The moment I won, you know, it was pretty amazing, and it was incredible I was able to win such a match against her.

So this was, I have to say, one of the best moments. And, I don't know. There were so many -- I play six finals and won three titles, so so far it was the best season of my life. There are so many great memories I have.

The last one is actually now from the Linz, and maybe this one. Even it wasn't one of the biggest tournaments, but it meant a lot of me because I really wanted to get here to Singapore. I was able to win Linz and beat great players.

Probably this was the best.

Q. What about tomorrow's opponent. You play her eight times in the past. You won the first four and have not had the same in the last four. Something you're changing in your game in particular? Something you're working on?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, of course. We'll see. I still going to talk a lot with my coach about the strategy and everything for tomorrow. Of course you have to add something extra when you play against such a good runner and hitting girl as she is.

Yeah, but, you know, mostly all the matches I play against most of the players, it's about my game because I play -- I have aggressive tennis, and that's what I want to do tomorrow.

But, you know, I always have to find the balance between to be aggressive and not to be too aggressive. So let's see how well it goes tomorrow.

Q. I'm sure that you practiced on the center court at the indoor stadium. How are you finding the conditions of the court?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, the court is -- as I said, last week I was in Linz and I thought the surface was pretty similar, but it's not. It's very different. It bounces and it's a little bit more faster.

So I still have to get used to it. It's good that it's at least indoor, that I don't have to get used to indoor and outdoor.

Just the ball are a little bit different. I'm finding the court pretty good. I will see how I feel during the matches, because the match is always different than the practice. I want to have a good feeling on my first match there.

Q. What are the special qualities of Angelique Kerber? Did you expect her to be the No. 1 of the world at this time of the season?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: I don't know. I didn't think like this, to expect her to be No. 1. She's world No. 1 and she deserves it. She has all of my respect.

, yeah, she is the best player in the world right now. I think she work pretty hard for this. I think she deserves it, yes.

Q. Going into Linz last week, having to win the tournament to qualify, how did you deal with the pressure during the week, and how much do you feel that reflects on your mental improvements?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, exactly. First time in my career I was put in this situation and I knew all the facts. I knew that I have play at least finals or win the tournament to get some points and to get -- to go ahead of Konta. I was going to this tournament with this, and probably it -- we have to do it more times during the year, because I was really pumped up and I was really strong and I was going to every match like, Okay, I only have one goal: to win it. It really helped me.

I saw this kind of pressure was pushing me forward. Of course it's something that I work on with my mental coach, but it's different when you go out on the court and you actually have to do it than just talking with him about it.

This give me a lot of confidence. I was actually really happy about myself, how I handled the situation. That's why I said it was one of the best moments of this year, because all the emotions came together. After I realized, okay, I did it. I came to the tournament and won it and got to Singapore. That's what I really wanted. The pressure didn't put me down, so it was good.

Q. There are not many indoor tournaments during the year and you won two. Does that give you extra confidence?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, it shows me that I play quite good in indoor tournaments. Even my first title in Moscow was indoor.

So, yeah, it shows me some signs that I am also good indoor player. Yeah, I think it's because I believe in my serve a little bit more indoor. It's just different conditions that maybe suits my game.

Yeah, I realize that a long time ago, that I like to play indoor.

Q. Do you think Angelique is a little bit tired after this great season? Might this be a chance for you?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: I don't know. We'll see. Everybody is tired I think right now. If I can speak for myself, I never had such a long season; I never played so many matches in my life during one season.

So I have to say I'm a bit tired, too. This is the last tournament of the season. You realize you only play a few last matches, and I think everybody will give 100% on the court. Even if you are tired, not tired. I already thought I'm tired in Asia, but I was able to play one final in Wuhan and win Linz and be here.

So we'll see. We'll see on the court.

Q. Looking back on your career you've been like a late bloomer, had slower upper trajectory. Do you treasure your success more?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Yeah, maybe -- that's what they were asking me before on the press conference. Maybe I think I'm one of the players that I needed to get more mature and maybe I could see that I could really do big things to be consistent player during the whole year.

This is what I always wanted to do, because in the past I beat the top players and have few first rounds. This is something I was really working on. My coach really help me to be more consistent and to keep the focus through the whole year.

I think that's one the things what made me to be here.

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