Kiki Bertens Triumphs In Russia As Yastremska Topples Tomljanovic In Thailand - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Triumphs In Russia As Yastremska Topples Tomljanovic In Thailand

Both women overcame some stern resistance from their opponents to win their first title of 2019.

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Second seed Kiki Bertens has become the first Dutch player to win the St Petersburg Open after downing Donna Vekic 7-6(2), 6-4, in the final on Sunday.

 

Bertens, who won her first WTA title back in 2012, had never previously reached the final of a Russian event prior to this week. Her route to Sunday’s clash saw her dropped only one set in four matches played. Scoring back-to-back wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Aryna Sabalenka. Meanwhile, Vekic’s route saw her stun Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals followed by a win over veteran player Vera Zvonareva.

Despite being ranked 22 places higher than her opponent, Bertens was under pressure early on in the match. A double break in Vekic’s advantage resulted in the Croat racing to a 5-2 lead. Despite the blip, Bertens clawed her way back to level 5-5, before taking the opening set into a tiebreaker. She then went on to race through the tiebreak, which she closed out with the help of a carefully placed serve down the middle of the court.

The roller-coaster battle continued in the second set with changes in momentum taking place. Bertens managed to open up a set and a 3-1 lead, before having her serve broken once again. The pivotal moment for the world No.8 occurred at 4-4. Nearing towards the finish line, she broke for a 5-4 advantage with the help of a costly double fault from across the court. Serving for the match, Bertens clinched victory with a backhand shot that clipped the top of the net before landing on Vekic’s side.

“I remember in my mind the last time I was playing Donna I had match-points, too, and then I lost the match. So I was really focused there and I am happy I managed to finish it in that game.” Bertens said afterwards.
“It is great to be here (in St Petersburg). It was a great week.”

Bertens fired eight aces past Vekic and converted four out of her five break point opportunities. Both women produced 33 unforced errors, but the second seed produced 27 winners compared to her opponents tally of 16. The result extends Vekic’s title drought, which dates back to June 2017.

“Congrats to Kiki and your team. You were too good for me today,” said Vekic. “I’m really looking forward to playing doubles with you in Indian Wells.
“Sorry, (coach) Torben (Beltz) we are going to have to wait a little bit longer for that first title, but at least the finals are getting bigger.”

Bertens now has 10 WTA titles to her name. St Petersburg is the first indoor tournament she has won on the tour at the age of 27.

Yastremska fights back from the brink

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At the Thailand Open in Hua Hin, 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska staged an emphatic final set comeback to win her second WTA trophy. Taking on Australia’s Anja Tomljanovic, Yastremska rallied back from 2-5 down in the decider to prevail 6–2, 2–6, 7–6(3).

After racing through the opening set in just 35 minutes, the Ukrainian started to fade as the match progressed. A game away from defeat, Yastremska took a medical time out in what proved to be a turning point. Upon the resumption of the match, the teenager was freely moving around the court as she claimed four consecutive games to revive her chances. Raising questions about if she deliberately used a tactical time out.

Weathering the storm, Yastremska went on to prevail in the tiebreaker. A Tomljanovic backhand into the net rewarded her with three championship points. She converted her first with the help of a blistering forehand cross-court winner.

“The match was really tough for me,” wtatennis.com quoted Yastremska as saying following the match. “The first set I played maximum, and the second set, I felt that I can’t play like that, like how I played the first set, and I didn’t know what’s going on. I tried my best, and I tried to do the same things I was doing in the first set, but it’s just feelings like you’re empty, completely empty. I don’t know how to describe that.”
“But in the third set, when I was losing 5-2, I remembered one thing, which happened before this tournament, and it really helped me to go through and take extra power, and finish with a win.”

Despite her young age, Yastremska has won two out of her past five tournaments on the tour. Her first triumph was at the Hong Kong Open where she didn’t drop a set on route to her maiden title.

When the WTA rankings are updated on Monday, Yastremska will rise to a ranking high of 34th.

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Matteo Berrettini reaches the final on his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat Alex De Minaur 6-4 6-4 after 84 minutes to reach the final in his debut at the Queen’s Club in London. 

 

Berrettini has not dropped a set yet at this tournament and beat British players Andy Murray and Daniel Evans earlier this week. 

Berrettini won 89% of his first service points and hit 8 aces. The Italian top ten player broke serve in the third game with a backhand down the line to take a 2-1 lead and did not face any break points in his next service games to win the first set 6-4. 

Berrettini earned three break points in the fifth game of the second set, but De Minaur held serve from 0-40 to take a 3-2 lead. Berrettini saved a break point to draw level to 3-3 before breaking serve to take a 5-4 lead in the ninth game, when De Minaur hit his slice into the net. Berrettini served out the win on his second match point to become the first Italian player to reach the final at the Queens. 

“Making the final was the goal of the week, and now I have one more step. It is a great achievement, especially for the history of this tournament. I am really happy because to beat Alex today, I had to play my best tennis. The mentality is that I always think I can win my service games. I know that I have a big weapon with my serve and first shot. If I sleep too well, it means something is off is off ahead of the final. I have to be nervous and tight a little bit, otherwise the adrenaline does not kick in and it is tougher to play”, said Berrettini. 

Berrettini set up a final against Cameron Norrie, who beat Denis Shapovalov 7-5 6-3 in 94 minutes. Norrie won 76% of his first service points and came back from one set down to become the first British player to reach the final at the Queen’s. 

Shapovalov earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Norrie broke back to draw level to 3-3. The British player earned his second break with a backhand passing shot in the 12th game to claim the first set 7-5. 

Norrie did not convert a break point at 3-2, after Shapovalov had treatment on an injury. The British player broke serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and served out the second set in the second game to secure his spot in the final. Norrie has reached his third final this year after fiinishing runner-up to Albert Ramos Vinolas at the Estoril Open and to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Lyon. 

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Samsonova Reaches Final in Berlin after Stunning Azarenka

The Russian qualifier beats the Belarusian in straight sets. She will face the fifth seed, Belinda Bencic.

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Liudmila Samsonova in Berlin in 2021 (Credit: @TennisChanneli on Twitter)

Liudmila Samsonova continued her dream run at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, this time beating the world number 16 Victoria Azarenka quite comfortably with a score of 6-4, 6-2 in only an hour and six minutes on Steffi Graff Stadion. “It’s all incredible for me, so new and I am happy and it’s unbelievable for me”.

 

The world number 106 had the better start to the match, earning the first two breakpoints of the match and getting an early 2-0 lead before the Minsk, Belarus native had two chances to go back on serve – the Russian, however, saved both and held serve.

It stayed on serve until 5-3m when the world number 106 had two set points on her opponents serve, but Azarenka would save both and the Russian would serve out the first set.

The second set was a mirror image of the first one, with the 22-year-old getting two more breakpoints and breaking to take an early 1-0 lead which she would later manage to turn into a double break.

At 4-0, the Russian had a chance to break again setting up a breakpoint with a powerful forehand winner, but the Belarusian would save both with two big serves.

At 5-2, Samsonova served out the match to book her spot in Sundays final where she will face the number five seed Belinda Bencic, who earlier in the day booked her spot in the final by beating Alize Cornet in straight sets.

In her post-match press conference, Samsonova gave her thoughts on Sunday’s match against another tough opponent in Bencic.

“I’m sure it’s going to be another tough match because she plays very good on this surface and she’s a good player, so I will try to do my best and focus on my game and we will see.”

This will be the first time Belinda Bencic and Liudmila Samsonova will meet in a WTA match.

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Andrey Rublev reaches his first grass court final in Halle

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Andrey Rublev hit 24 winners in his 6-1 3-6 6-3 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili in 1 hour and 51 minutes to reach his first grass court final at the NOVENTI Open in Halle. 

 

Rublev raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set with two breaks in the second and fourth games after 19 minutes. Basilashvili broke serve in the fifth game of the second set after a forehand error from Rublev to win the second set 6-3. 

Rublev earned a break in the sixth game of the third set, when Basilashvili mis-timed a backhand. Basilashvili rallied from 0-40 at 3-5 to save three break points. Rublev served out the third set 6-3 on his first match point. 

Rublev will try to improve his 4-1 record in his ATP 500 level finals. The Russian player rise to third position in the ATP Race to Turin. He has extended his match record at ATP 500 tournaments since the ATP Tour resumed from the Covid-19 suspension. He has claimed his past four ATP Tour 500 level finals in Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Vienna in 2020 and Rotterdam in 2021. “It’s my first final on grass and in Halle. I think I can play on every surface and I will try my best again tomorrow. I had good opporunities to break Basilashvili in the second set, some quite easy forehands and I stressed a little showing my emotions. I then came back and stayed calm until the last game, but I won”, said Rublev.

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