Dominika Cibulková is a 26-year-old professional tennis player known for her quick and aggressive style of play. She’s reached the quarterfinals or better at least once in all four Grand Slam tournaments and, on Monday, she broke back into the headlines with an upset against seventh-seed Ana Ivanovic on the first day of the US open.
Cibulková cruised to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory on Monday morning. It’s the first time she’s made it to the second round of the US Open since 2012.
Here’s what you need to know about the Slovakia standout:
1. Her Most Notable Achievement Was in the 2014 Australian Open
Cibulková reached the finals of the 2014 Australian Open, the best finish in her entire professional career. She became the first female Slovakian player to reach the championship round of a Grand Slam.
She won her first three matches at the Australian Open in straight sets, including an upset over Maria Sharapova in tree sets. She then went on to defeat Simona Halep, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2009 French Open and was even featured on the January 24 front page of The Washington Post after her victory over Agnieszka Radwańska. No one expected the 5-foot-3 Cibulková to make the finals, but she defied expectations, telling media ahead of the final:
It’s not about how tall you are. Even if you are tall, it doesn’t mean that your are 100% going to make it. You have to really want something, to believe in it. There is nothing more important.
Cibulková faced off against Li Na in her first-ever Major final, falling in a tie-break in the first set and the second set without winning a game.
2. She Has a Signature Expression
Whenever she records a particularly impressive on-court move Cibulková exclais one word “Pome!” The phrase roughly translates to “Lets go!” or “Come on!” in English. She also started her own clothing line featuring the phrase in 2014.
Cibulková joined forces with her good friend, and former Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli to create the line, called “Domi,” which includes shirts and hats with the tennis star’s image and catchprase on them.
3. Cibulková Made Her Grand Slam Debut in 2007
Cibulková started the year with a win over Tara Iyer in the first round of the CANARA Open before falling to No. 4 seed Jelena Kostanić Tošić in the second round.
She went on to qualify for the 2007 French Open and made her Grand Slam main draw debut, reaching the third round. Her best finish of the year came in September, when she reached the semifinal stage at the Guangzhou International Women’s Open in China, falling to eventual champion Virginie Razzano.
4. She Won Her First WTA Title in 2011
She began the year by reaching the quarterfinals of the 2011 Brisbane Invitational but her biggest moment came at the 2011 Medibank International Sydney, defeating then-world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.
Overall, 2011 was a fantastic year for Cibulková. She defeated Wozniacki again at Wimbledon before falling in the quarterfinals to Maria Sharapova. She then won her first WTA title, the Kremlin Cup, defeating Kaia Kanepi in three sets. It was the first time a player had won the Kremlin Cup during their first appearance in the tournament.
5. She’s Been on a Five-Month Injury Layoff
After reaching a career-high ranking at No. 10 in March 2014 Cibulková is returning from an injury layoff, staging a slow but steady comeback. Now ranked No. 58, the Slovakian standout is in the third month of her return after a bone spur in her heel derailed a solid start to 2015.
She explained the injury to WTA Insider, saying:
It was starting to bother me more and more. For two years I wasn’t in crazy pain but I was in pain. This February after Antwerp I twisted my ankle a little bit and I hurt my Achilles again because of the bone spur. The doctor told me, ‘OK, Domi. The bone is too big. We have to shave it. You have to make a decision.
Cibulková underwent surgery to shave down the spur that had been irritating her Achilles, a procedure that kept her off the tour for five months. In the last month she’s notched victories over Sloane Stephens and Kristina Mladenovic and, of course, recorded the first upset of the US Open with a three-set win over Ana Ivanovic.