Vera Zvonareva wins all-Russian match against Daria Kasatkina to reach the semifinal in St. Petersburg - UBITENNIS
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Vera Zvonareva wins all-Russian match against Daria Kasatkina to reach the semifinal in St. Petersburg

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Vera Zvonareva beat number 3 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in one hour and 47 minutes to reach the semifinal of the St. Petersburg Ladies Open.

Vera Zvonareva dropped her serve four times, but she converted five break points. Zvonareva broke twice to win the first set 6-3 and served for the match twice in the second set at 5-4 and at 6-5, but she dropped her serve both times. Zvonareva converted the first of her three match point to win the tie-break 7-3.

Kiki Bertens just dropped seven points on serve in the first and third sets to edge Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 3-6 6-0.

Pavlyuchenkova had beaten Bertens in their most recent head-to-head matches in Wuhan in 2018 and at the Australian Open two weeks ago.

Bertens broke in the opening game and went up a double break in the third game with a crosscourt forehand to take a 3-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova held serve in the fifth game for 1-4. Bertens held her next two service games at love to win the first set 6-2. Pavlyuchenkova earned her first break of the match and held her serve easily to open up a 3-0 lead. Bertens pulled the break back at 4-3 with strong forehands, but Pavlyuchenkova got another break to earn her chance to serve for the second set at 5-3. The Russian player sealed the win with an ace. Bertens broke twice and held her serve easily for 5-0. Pavlyuchenkova saved one match point in the next game with a big serve, before Bertens converted her second match point with a backhand winner down the line. Bertens set up a semifinal clash against Aryna Sabalenka.

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Elise Mertens Edges Simona Halep To Win Maiden Premier Level Title

Elise Mertens won the biggest title of her career with a three set win over former world number one Simona Halep in Doha.

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Elise Mertens (@elise_mertens - Twitter)

Elise Mertens won her first Premier title in Doha after edging out Simona Halep 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a dramatic final. 

The Belgian played some aggressive tennis as she tired out Simona Halep to win her first ever premier-level title of her career.

After a long medical time-out which lasted about eight minutes since the last point, Mertens came back from a set and a break to seal a great title which involved beating three top 10 players.

Despite losing a gruelling final, Halep will move back up to world number two heading into next week’s Premier 5 event in Dubai.

It was all about Halep for the first set and a quarter as she dictated the rallies with some sensation backhand shots, using her movement well.

Although there was good returning from Mertens, she couldn’t break down a very good Halep who just looked in control of every point.

After four breaks of serve, the Romanian inched closer towards the title as she took the first set 6-3 in 35 minutes. The Belgian needed to improve her first set to have a chance of winning the title.

The second set started with a share of breaks as Halep looked in fighting-fit shape to seal her first title of 2019 after a great week of tennis.

Then came the major talking point of the match as Mertens took an off-court medical time-out as the match didn’t restart until eight minutes later.

That would be the turning of the match as the Belgian controlled the match from that point onwards with some aggressive backhands and some neat serving.

As a result Halep’s momentum had been taken away as she struggled to cope with the break and couldn’t find her rhythm back.

With many break points not being converted by either player the world number 21 struck in the ninth game with a break to love and converted her first set point in the next game to force a decider.

After a Halep medical time-out, Mertens broke on the first game and a crucially long service hold was the big boost that the unseeded player needed.

It wasn’t to be Simona’s day as a third break in the set secured the best win of Mertens’ career so far to lift the Doha title.

https://twitter.com/WTA/status/1096831044647600134

After a disappointing Fed Cup campaign for Belgium, Mertens beat Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber and Halep today to ensure the best week of her career.

As for Halep she will return to world number two as the emotions of last weekend and the brutal wins of Julia Goerges and Elina Svitolina caught up with her today.

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Petra Kvitova Praises Dubai Field As Svitolina Given Tough Title Defence

Petra Kvitova has praised the Dubai field ahead of another great week in the Middle East as Elina Svitolina prepares to defend her title.

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Petra Kvitova (@AusOpen - Twitter)

Petra Kvitova has praised the Dubai field ahead of a tough week in the UAE as defending champion Elina Svitolina is handed a tough draw. 

The Australian Open finalist has praised the ‘unbelievable’ quality that is on show in Dubai as nine of the world’s top 10 are playing next week.

While Kvitova may not be looking ahead to the title she could face 7th seed Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals as the draw was announced today.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina has been given a tough path ahead of her title defence though as the likes of Donna Vekic, Garbine Muguruza and Naomi Osaka stand in her way.

Attending the draw ceremony alongside Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova praised the tough Dubai field ahead of the tournament start on Sunday, “Every tournament is difficult, and this [field] is unbelievable,” Kvitova told The National.

“We have so many great players playing here. Of course, it’s always tough to win a tournament and it’ll be the same here.”

The draw has seen Kvitova potentially face Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals, with Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina also in her section of the draw. As the prospect of reaching a third final in 2019 is not something to think about yet for the second seed, “It’s a long way to go so I’m not thinking of that.”

Meanwhile in the top half of the draw Elina Svitolina could face Donna Vekic as she faces a tough path to defending her title.

Other players in Svitolina’s section include Garbine Muguruza, who plays Dayana Yastremska in her opening match who beat her in Hua Hin a couple of weeks ago.

Also world number one Naomi Osaka awaits for the Ukrainian as the Australian Open champion looks to play her first tournament without the guidance of Sascha Bajin.

Here is the full draw with action beginning on Sunday:

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Dominic Thiem Edges Cuevas To Remain Unbeaten In Buenos Aires, Schwartzman Awaits

Dominic Thiem has extended his unbeaten streak to 11 matches in Bueno Aires after edging past Pablo Cuevas to reach the semi-finals.

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Dominic Thiem (@SectaDeportivaa - Twittter)

Dominic Thiem won an 11th consecutive match in Buenos Aires as he edged out Pablo Cuevas 4-6 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals. 

After a slow start the Austrian won 73% of first service points to seal a place in the last four as he made it 11-0 in the Argentinian capital.

In the semi-finals he will play good friend and doubles partner this week Diego Schwartzman, who comfortably beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The other semi-final will see Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato take on Guido Pella, who saved match points against Jaume Munar.

There was a threat to Thiem’s unbeaten streak early on as his Uruguayan opponent got off to the perfect start with a break in the third game.

Struggling on serve and failing to create any break point opportunities Thiem surrendered the first set in 34 minutes to the world number 78.

However the world number eight adjusted tactically and remained focused on the task at hand as he took a 3-0 lead. Despite being broke back while serving for the set, the top seed broke straight back to force a deciding set as he looked a relieved figure.

The deciding set went in similar fashion with the only exception being that Thiem wasn’t broken back this time. After holding his lead from 3-0 up, Thiem served out the match to secure his first ATP semi-final of the season.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1096580571327799299

After edging past Cuevas, the world number eight will now play Diego Schwartzman in the last four in what is set to be a busy day for the duo.

Not only will they play against each other in singles, they will also team up with each other in doubles as they reached the semi-finals there as well.

The talented Argentinian defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-q 7-5 to reach the last four in his home country and will look to end Thiem’s unbeaten streak on Saturday afternoon.

The other semi-final will see Marco Cecchinato play Guido Pella with the action starting at 2pm local time.

While in New York the action starts at 4pm local time with Brayden Schnur taking on Sam Querrey and John Isner playing Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals.

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