Dominika Cibulkova’s wedding in doubt after beating Agnieszka Radwanska

Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club

It is not every day that a bride-to-be breaks into a broad smile while confessing it would be a “dream come true” if her wedding was cancelled. But Dominika Cibulkova, a 27-year-old from Slovakia, has better reason than most to hope her special day this Saturday is postponed. Because it will mean she is playing in the Wimbledon ladies’ final.

“We chose the date because I never saw myself as such a great grass-court player,” Cibulkova said after a three‑hour epic against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, “but now I’ve won Eastbourne last week and reached the quarter‑finals here I have changed my mind. It’s funny, because last week I had a dream that it was already my wedding day on Saturday. And then I woke up and said: ‘No, I have to play match today. We are still at Wimbledon!’”

In the ice bath after her 6-3, 5-7, 9-7 victory against Radwanska, the No3 seed, she made another decision: she will cancel her wedding to Miso Navara in Bratislava this Saturday if she wins her next match against the unseeded Elena Vesnina, who won an all-Russian battle against Ekatarina Makarova 5-7, 6-1, 9-7, on Monday.

“It was only in the ice bath that I said to my team: ‘OK, now it’s getting more serious.’ I told them, if I win my quarter‑final, then we seriously have to deal with this. But if we have to postpone it, it will be like a dream come true. Because nothing better could happen to me in my tennis career than playing in a Wimbledon final. It’s no problem to postpone a wedding for one week after and it will be even more enjoyable.”

Cibulkova said she had invited the former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli to her wedding but she had to decline because she is due to commentate on the final. “We are very good friends,” she said. “So, if she were to commentate me on Saturday, I wouldn’t mind because next week she can come!”

The 19th seed, who is on a nine-match winning run on grass, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and then had to survive a match point in the 12th game of the third set. But as the match tipped into a fourth hour, Cibulkova collapsed to the floor after sealing the game on her third match point. She said: “It was the toughest match in my career so far, physically and also mentally. After I didn’t make the first match point the momentum changed and then she was up. And she was playing really aggressive than our previous matches, and her defence was just so good, as always.”

Cibulkova, who hit 56 winners and 39 unforced errors, added: “Sometimes when you play against different players, it’s just enough one winner, but against Aga I felt like I have to put six, seven, eight winners to earn the point. Afterwards I was really crying. It was so emotional because physically I felt like I couldn’t move any more.”

Radwanska was clearly disappointed but paid tribute to her opponent. “It was a great match, which got better and better,” she said. “I think every set was better than the next. It’s always disappointing, especially after three hours when you are really exhausted and angry, when you lose a match that could have gone either way.”

Meanwhile the No5 seed Simona Halep had to recover from a set down to beat the 21-year-old American Madison Keys 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to book a quarter-final against the No4 seed, Angelique Kerber, who dismantled Masaki Doi in straight sets for the loss of only four games.

Last month Keys entered the top 10 for the first time, the first American to do so since Serena Williams in 1999, and she also has rich grass-court pedigree having reached the quarter-finals here last year and won at Birmingham last month.

However, after winning the first-set tie-break Keys threw away the second from a break up and then succumbed in the third after suffering from cramp. “I haven’t cramped for like five and a half years, so it was good timing,” she said, smiling. “I’m sure in like two days I’ll look back and see a lot of positives from it but right now I’m really frustrated.”

Halep admitted the match could have gone either way. “It was very tough,” she said. “She hits the ball with a lot of power, and the serve is huge. But I kept fighting to the end.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Sean Ingle at Wimbledon, for The Guardian on Monday 4th July 2016 19.04 Europe/London

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