Skip to main content

Serena survives scare to make Miami quarters

March 25, 2013 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
Serena Williams, who lives in nearby Palm Beach, dug deep to see off Dominika Cibulkova at Key Biscayne.
Serena Williams, who lives in nearby Palm Beach, dug deep to see off Dominika Cibulkova at Key Biscayne.
  • Serena Williams rallies from 2-6, 1-4 down to beat Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia
  • World No. 1 to face Li Na of China in quarterfinals
  • Andy Murray also through after Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov crumbles against Scot

(CNN) -- Serena Williams stayed on course to become the first woman to win the Miami Masters six times but only just, after surviving a major scare against Dominika Cibulkova.

At one point, the 13th seed from Slovakia led 6-2, 4-1 and seemed to have one foot in the quarterfinals until Williams, 31, displayed the fighting qualities that have made her one of the greats of the game.

The world No. 1 rallied to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and so book her place in the last eight, where she will take on China's Li Na, the fifth seed.

"I just thought to myself, 'Well, I've been down worse. It's nothing new. Just keep fighting'," Williams -- whose five crowns are equaled only by Steffi Graf -- told reporters in Key Biscayne.

"I never give up. It doesn't matter whether it's in life or on the tennis court -- I keep fighting."

Serena Williams' rise to greatness
In Krakow with the Radwanska sisters
Ivan Lendl: There are plenty of champs
Tommy Haas: My daughter motivates me

"I was playing a really good opponent who plays really well. She's a good fighter and a great player," added the American, who is seeking her first Miami title to add to those won in 2002-2004 and 2007-2008.

Unfortunately for Cibulkova however, the defeat marked the second year in a row where the 23-year-old has led the world's best by a significant distance in Miami only to fail to make it over the finish line.

In 2012, the right-hander led Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 5-2 before succumbing to defeat.

Read: Redfoo pens song for Azarenka

Meanwhile, Na was unconvincing as she made 39 unforced errors in a straight sets defeat of Spanish teenager Garbine Muguruza (7-6, 6-2).

Playing her first tournament since injuring her ankle at January's Australian Open, Na let both a 5-1 lead in the first set -- and then a 6-1 lead in the tie break -- slip before dismissing the 19-year-old who had knocked out Caroline Wozniacki and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska also had trouble making it through as the fourth seed recovered from losing the first set before seeing off the challenge of rising talent Sloane Stephens with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win.

Read: Sisterly love that drives Radwanska sisters

Next up for the Pole is Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, who saw off Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to continue her best start to a season -- as she reached her fourth quarterfinal of the year.

In the men's section, second seed Andy Murray saw off the challenge of Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets (7-6, 6-3) after the Bulgarian also let a decent lead slip.

The 21-year-old had the chance to win the first set when serving at 5-3 but three double faults handed the Scot a lifeline.

It is the second time in as many tournaments that Dimitrov has cracked when serving for a set against a top-ranked player, having served four double faults when leading world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 5-3 at Indian Wells earlier this month.

Murray will face Italy's Andrea Seppi in the quarterfinals.

Part of complete coverage on
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.