”I’m just so excited,” said Cibulkova, after winning in 2 hours, 27 minutes. ”This is my first time here, playing finals now, and playing such a great match against Sveta.
”For me, it’s one of my dreams come true and it’s just incredible.”
Cibulkova holds a 6-3 winning record over Kuznetsova, and has now won their last six matches. She is the second consecutive player to reach the year-end final having come out of the round-robin stage with a 1-2 result.
Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, who faced top-seeded Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s other semifinal, won the title from a 1-2 finish in the round-robin last year.
Cibulkova was named the 2016 WTA Comeback Player of the Year, having improved from a No. 38 year-end ranking in 2015 to No. 8 this week. In 2015, she missed four months of the season after undergoing Achilles surgery.
Cibulkova was almost non-existent in the first set and Kuznetsova didn’t offer a break-point opportunity.
The second set featured six service breaks, but it was Cibulkova who took the tiebreaker by repeated smart-shot placement against her Russian opponent.
Kuznetsova looked on the way to the finals with a 4-2 lead in the dramatic third set, but Cibulkova refused to fold.
From 4-4, Cibulkova saved two break points on her serve in the ninth game, and then captured the first match point at 30-40 when Kuznetsova’s forehand clipped the net and sailed wide.
Cibulkova will play top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany in the finals. Kerber defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2 6-1.
Watch encore on Tennis Channel and Tennis Channel Plus