Dominika Cibulkova plans on playing a fewer number of tournaments in 2018 to protect her body, the Slovakian ex-world No. 4 has revealed.
The 28-year-old Cibulkova has made adjustments to her training and has tweaked her schedule for next year, to avoid overplaying and injuries.
“It’s something we’re going to do this year. Even I’m skipping Brisbane and I’m just going to play Sydney and Melbourne in Australia,” Cibulkova told Sport360 during her preseason training in Dubai.
“I’m planning to play just a maximum of 18 tournaments. Last year I played 23 or 24 so it’s going to be a big difference for me and if I will do well then I’ll just play like 15 tournaments. So let’s see what 2018 is going to bring.”
Cibulkova had ended 2016 on a high note, winning her biggest title to date at the WTA Finals in Singapore but she had a tricky 2017 that saw her slip to No. 26 in the rankings.
After winning four titles from seven finals reached last year, she made just one final in 2017 – in New Haven – and struggled with some physical problems including thigh, shoulder and wrist injuries.
Cibulkova is hardly the oldest player on tour but she has already been on tour for 14 years. The 2014 Australian Open runner-up says she has adapted her preseason training as she got older.
“Yes of course it changed. It’s not the same as I was 20 when I could practice like a horse, as we say in Slovakia, and it was all good. Now I have to pay attention really more to my body, and more to be ready and be fit for the next practice and to be physically and mentally in the mood. Like ‘okay, let’s go practice, I want to practice more and more’. Because when I feel like there’s no energy it’s no energy for training,” she explains.
“We train a bit different. We take care of my body and the practices, we check my heart rate and everything, so it’s really kind of a good work.”
Dominika Cibulkova is one of several WTA and ATP players spending their preseason in Dubai as they prepare their assault on 2018.
Sport360 attended one of Cibulkova’s practices at Jumeirah Beach Hotel earlier this month. After spending an intense 90 minutes hitting forehands and backhands on court, she headed straight to the gym and did multiple sets of the video above for 30 minutes.
“We changed my training a little bit. I used to do these kind of things at the end of the day but we tried to change it because my physio and my fitness coach they talked a little bit and changed some things. Right now I did (went to the gym) after my first morning session on the court, and then in the afternoon I just have serve and return and some easy runs,” she told Sport360.
For more from Sport360’s Preseason Watch, click here.
The ninth-ranked Wawrinka has not played a match since Wimbledon last July and has been recovering from double knee surgery.
“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play in Abu Dhabi this year as I’m not ready yet to compete at this level,” said Wawrinka. “Together with my team, I’m working hard and we will do everything to be ready in time for the Australian Open. I’m sad that I won’t be able to play in front of the great fans at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship but I need to be patient and give my body the time it needs. I wish everyone a great event and hope to be back in Abu Dhabi in 2018.”
Raonic has played just six matches since Wimbledon, with his last appearance being a second round retirement in Tokyo in October. He missed the US Open to recover from wrist surgery then suffered a calf strain in Japan.
— MWTC (@MubadalaTennis) December 20, 2017
Rublev, who had a breakthrough 2017 that saw him reach the quarter-finals of the US Open, will replace Raonic in the draw and open his Abu Dhabi campaign against Dominic Thiem (19:00 UAE time) on Thursday, December 28, while Anderson takes Wawrinka’s spot and faces Carreno Busta on the same opening day (17:00 UAE time).
The winner of Anderson-Carreno Busta faces Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday, December 29 (17:00) while the winner of Thiem-Rublev takes on Djokovic at 19:00.
Anderson, who will be making his second Abu Dhabi appearance, said: “I am looking forward to playing in Abu Dhabi and getting ready for the new season and the year’s first Grand Slam. The competition is going to be intense and I’m looking to pick up on where I left off last year.”
Sport360 is offering a competition where a child, aged 6-12, can win a spot as the bag carrier for either Thiem or Rublev on day one of the MWTC, along with two tickets – one of which must be used by the entrant.