Dominika Cibulkova moved into the last four of the WTA Finals in Singapore after a sensational 6-3 7-6 victory over Romanian, Simona Halep in her final group match.
The diminutive Slovakian stood on the brink of elimination after losing her first two matches in the Red Group, but the 27-year-old produced a performance packed with skill, energy and grit on Thursday to barge into the semi-finals.
The former Australian Open finalist needed to beat Halep in straight sets to stand any chance of making progress, and she jumped out of the blocks into a 3-0 lead against the Romanian, who appeared to be struggling with a knee problem.
Cibulkova never looked back after that, taking the opening set 6-3.
She looked to be coasting to victory when she broke in the first game of the second set, but Halep battled through the pain barrier to serve up a nail-biting second set.
The Romanian needed to take at least a set to stay alive in the tournament, and as if that realization suddenly dawned on her, she elevated her levels, matching Cibulkova stroke for stroke as the set reached a gripping crescendo.
There were lengthy games, lung-bursting rallies, ridiculous winners, and breaks galore as both ladies delivered an absolute treat.
Fittingly, it would be decided on a tie break.
Cibulkova had been the marginally better player throughout the set, and that told at the back end of the breaker as she strung together three points in a row to take a thrilling encounter.
The Slovakian had done her bit, but she still needed help from world number one, Angelique Kerber.
Kerber went into her match against Madison Keys knowing that her semi-final spot was secure, but she had to beat Keys in straight sets to lift Cibulkova into the semis.
The German duly delivered, dispatching Keys 6-3 6-3 to send the American packing, and prolong Cibulkova’s stay in Singapore.