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Cibulkova, Vekic to meet for Kuala Lumpur title

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Dominika Cibulkova and Donna Vekic each rallied for semifinal victories Saturday and will play for the title at the Malaysian Open.

Rain delayed the start of singles action Saturday and both semifinal matches were played at the same time.

The top-seeded Cibulkova earned a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-3 triumph over defending champion Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, while the seventh-seeded Vekic rebounded from a disastrous first set and claimed a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over second-seeded Zhang Shuai of China.

Vekic appeared on her way to resounding defeat after dropping the first set of her match in a mere 21 minutes. She then reversed the momentum by winning the first five games of the second set and broke early in the third en route to her third career final.

The native of Croatia lost to Daniela Hantuchova last year at the Wimbledon tune-up in Birmingham and also fell to Irina-Camelia Begu in the 2012 Tashkent final.

It's been a rough year for Vekic, who lost in the first round of her first four events and had just four match wins in 2014 before rattling off four this week. Her best finish in seven previous events this year was a third-round loss to Petra Kvitova in Miami.

"It's amazing because I didn't have a great start to the year," said Vekic. "Until a couple of weeks ago I couldn't win a match, and now I'm in another final."

Cibulkova withstood 17 aces from Pliskova to advance to her third final of 2014. She was the surprise runner-up to Li Na at the Australian Open and beat Christina McHale for the Acapulco crown in February.

Three of the Slovak's losses this year have come against Li, as the Chinese star also beat Cibulkova in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells and the semifinals in Miami. Saturday's win was her WTA-leading 24th match victory of 2014.

"I'm playing so well this year," noted Cibulkova. "I think it's because I'm just trying to enjoy myself on the court."

Cibulkova is 4-6 all-time in title matches and beat Vekic in their only previous meeting -- a 6-3, 6-2 triumph in the second round at Indian Wells last month.

Sunday's winner will collect $43,000.