Things always happen in threes, they say, but fortunately for Dominika Cibulkova not at the French Open.
Two previous defeats against Victoria Azarenka after she had been a set and a break up flashed before her eyes when she was 6-2, 4-2 up against the World No 1 in their fourth-round match at Roland Garros on Sunday.
“You can’t be human if you weren’t thinking about that,” Cibulkova told a news conference after beating Azarenka 6-2, 7-6 to reach the quarterfinals.
“This year in Miami I was 6-1, 5-2 up against her, and a pretty similar thing happened. And last year in Miami it was the same. I think I was still 6-2, 4-2 up again, and I lost.”
No wonder that her arm started shaking when victory was within her reach.
“I got a little bit – not nervous, but a little bit more. I was not going for my shots anymore,” said the Slovakian, who reached the last four on the Parisian clay three years ago.
“But today it was a great thing that I managed to go through these emotions. She was 6-5 up, and I said, hey, come on, you have to play your game again and just make it.
“And for the tiebreak I’m very, very proud of myself that I was still going for my shots, and I just made it because she would never give me the match.”
Cibulkova, who had beaten Azarenka once in their previous eight encounters, will now take on either Australian sixth seed Samantha Stosur or American teenager Sloane Stephens.
Having just knocked out the World No 1, she will definitely have the self-confidence she needs to advance.
“I have this confidence that I really needed for a long time and I think the confidence on this level is the most important thing,” she said. “So of course I believe (that I can do it) but I just need to keep this level.”
Djokovic, Federer escape booby traps
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer stayed on course for a mouth-watering French Open semi-final showdown on Sunday, but only after they survived fourth round scares at a chilly Roland Garros.
Djokovic staged an epic recovery to defeat Italy's Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 and salvage his dream of making Grand Slam history.
The world no.1, bidding to become just the third man to hold all four majors at the same time, and first since 1969, struggled in the cold conditions on Philippe Chatrier court against a player he'd beaten seven times in seven meetings.
"I played very badly, but I won thanks to my fighting spirit," said Djokovic, after a 25th successive Grand Slam match win took him into the quarter-finals for the sixth time.
Federer, the champion in 2009, dropped the first set against Belgian lucky loser David Goffin, the world number 109, before claiming a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 win on Suzanne Lenglen court.