Cibulkova's Cinderella story sweetens Singapore field

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Though the WTA Finals may lack a certain stardust in the absence of Serena Williams, Dominika Cibulkova's road to Singapore gives the season-ending showpiece a heart-warming glow.

Having lost her place as world number one to Angelique Kerber, Serena will skip Singapore for a second year in succession to focus on recovering from injury and preparing for the hard slog of her 22nd year among the professional ranks.

Big names such as Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka are also missing for differing reasons, but Cibulkova ought to give the fans something to cheer after a redemptive 2016.

 

THE FALL

A quarter-final run at the Australian Open would not prove to be a fair omen for the Czech's 2015.

After an Achilles injury wiped her out for four months, Cibulkova's return could not have gone much worse, losing eight of her 15 matches through the grass-court and US Open swings, suffering four first-round eliminations.

Further poor form in Asia and yet another first-round exit at this year's Australian Open left Cibulkova 66th in the world. What has followed has been nothing short of spectacular...

 

THE RISE

Cibulkova reached her first final in 22 months in Acapulco this February, where defeat to Sloane Stephens and an immediate first-round loss in Monterrey could have shaken her confidence.

Victories in Katowice and Eastbourne over a couple of months propelled her into form, Cibulkova reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon - another victory would have led to the postponement of her wedding, though she then - fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view - lost to Elena Vesnina at SW19.

 
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And though she could only follow that up with a third-round appearance at the US Open, a run to the final in Wuhan and going all the way in Linz just last week propelled the 26-year-old to a career-high eighth in the world and secured her a spot at the Finals for the first time in her career.


WHO ELSE IS IN ACTION?

Top-ranked Kerber is naturally involved after a silver-lined year so far thanks to her victories at the Australian Open and US Open.

Runs to the final at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games also mark out Kerber as the woman to beat. She has been drawn in the red group alongside Cibulkova, Simona Halep and Madison Keys.

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska headlines the white group alongside French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

Karolina Pliskova is also in the group, with Svetlana Kuznetsova snatching the final spot from Johanna Konta thanks to her Kremlin Cup win on Saturday, just one day out from play beginning in Singapore.