It was a shame that Dominka Cibulkova pretty much went to pieces in her Rogers Cup final against Dinara Safina. The generally tough customer could not serve, and could not even defend very well. It will be the last time she lets nerves get the best of her, I think. This time, it made it that much easier for Dinara Safina to win a big match handily (though she seems to prefer to win them in other ways!)--6-2, 6-1.
Much praise should go to Cibulkova, though, who reached the final by taking out Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova, Jelena Jankovic, and Marion Bartoli. Wow. She will now be the number 20 player in the world.
By winning in Montreal, Safina has won the U.S. Open Series; no one could possibly catch up to her, points-wise. If she should win the U.S. Open, she will get an extra $1 million in prize money, and she will win bonus money for each round she wins. Bonus money also goes to the second and third-place U.S. Open Series winners.
I am amazed to hear some people say that Safina's recent victories are a sign of decreased quality on the tour. "But she's been beaten by so many top players!" I hear. Hello! She is not the same player she was two years ago, not the same player she was a year ago, not the same player she was six months ago. Here's a concept: improvement. Safina has become much more fit, and--more important--she has completely changed in the head department. Dinara Safina always had talent, but now she plays like a winner. If fans expect a player to never get past a certain point in skill level and toughness, then what is the point of athletic (or any) competition?
Safina, always a personable player and fun to watch, has been a breath of fresh air in the 2008 season. Keep it up, Dinara.