Kiki Bertens Continues Her Dominance Over Sabalenka To Set Pliskova Clash - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Continues Her Dominance Over Sabalenka To Set Pliskova Clash

Kiki Bertens will play Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals at Eastbourne after she beat Aryna Sabalenka for the fourth time in a row.

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Kiki Bertens (@sportlive2017 on Twitter)

Kiki Bertens maintained her 100% record against Aryna Sabalenka by outlasting her 6-4 3-6 6-4 to book her place in the semi-finals of the Nature Valley International.

 

The Dutchwoman, 27, was victorious in all three of her previous meetings with the Belarussian. However, this was their first meeting on grass, and the World No.4 knew it would be a difficult match.

“I think it was a really good fight,” Bertens said. “It’s always tough to play her, because you get some winners and then some errors. But I think in the first set I played really well. I think it was my best match on the grass so far.”

The Dutchwoman believes her style of play helps her deal with the challenges posed by Sabalenka. “I have never lost against her so far,” she said. “I like it when someone’s playing powerful, and then I can just use the slice a little bit more. I don’t have to generate so much power myself.”

“I think today I had the right balance between where I could hit the slice and where I could play a little bit more aggressively.”

Bertens won the tight first set because she saved two break points and took one of the two chances she created on Sabalenka’s serve.

The Belarussian roared back in the second set. She attacked the World No.4’s second serve and broke her twice to take it 6-3.

Then the decider could have gone either way. It was neck and neck until the last two points when Sabalenka made unforced errors at exactly the wrong time to hand Bertens a final and the match.

Bertens improving on grass

The Dutchwoman is happy with the progression in her performances on grass. “Today I was really happy with the way I played. I feel better every match I play and my level is going up.”

She also believes she is beginning to cope better with the pressure of expectation. “They’re tough, but they’re also a good thing to have. I think at the moment I’m dealing pretty well with them.”

“In the past, I was struggling with it more, like when I made the semis in Paris a few years ago. At that time, I was really struggling with all the attention and the expectations.”

“But right now I feel like it’s going well, even if next week it can be over, so I’m just trying and enjoy it, stay in the moment and do whatever you can.”

Bertens to face Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova (@BBCTennis on Twitter)

That kind of positive thinking will be needed in Bertens’ last four match against Karolina Pliskova. The Czech demolished Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-0 in just 54 minutes today and she is in red-hot form.

“It seems to me that she didn’t really see any way to beat me,” Pliskova said. “It’s tough because I can hold my serve more easily than other players and save break points with it.”

“Opponents try to do too much (against me). And I don’t mind this type of game because (it usually means) there a lot of mistakes from them.”

Despite the ease of her win today, Pliskova is wary of Bertens because the Dutchwoman beat her at Wimbledon last year.

“It’s going to be tough,” the Czech said. “(Last year) she was just too solid, too good for me. I started to play better in the second set, but it was too late.”

Pliskova is hoping the conditions will help her tomorrow. “I think she doesn’t like the wind much, so if it’s windy I think it’s better for me.”

The World No.3 described the challenges Bertens provides. “She can serve well,” she said. “She can also hit big and hit some slices.”

“I will need to be patient, because she definitely won’t make as many mistakes as Alexandrova. But I will have more time (to play my shots).”

Pliskova is much happier with her form on grass this year than she was in 2018. “I feel like I’m playing better this year,” she said. “I wasn’t playing well at these tournaments last year at all.”

“And at Wimbledon I was almost gone in the second round and then in the third round, and then I really was gone in the fourth round.”

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Ahsleigh Barty overcomes Garbine Muguruza to reach the semifinals in Doha

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Ashleigh Barty fought back from losing the second set to beat Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the Qatar Total Open on Centre Court in Doha.

 

Barty and Muguruza were level at 1-1 in their two previous head-to-head matches, which went to the third set.

Barty received a walkover into the quarter final as Elena Rybakina pulled out injured after reaching two consecutive Premier-level finals in St. Petersburg and Dubai.

Barty broke twice in the second and sixth games and did not face a break point to win the first set 6-1.

Muguruza earned the first break of the second set in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Barty broke straight back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4 to force the second set to the tie-break. Muguruza raced out to a 5-0 lead. Barty came back by winning four of the next five games, but Muguruza clinched the second set on their second set point.

Barty saved a break point in the first game of the third set and opened up a 5-2 lead after a streak of three consecutive breaks. The Australian player came back from 15-40 down in the last game and forced a backhand into the net from Muguruza on return to earn a match point and sealed the win with a break, as Muguruza sent her forehand wide.  Barty sets up a semifinal against Petra Kvitova in a re-match of the Australian Open quarter finals.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova reach the semifinals in Doha

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Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-4 in 1 hour and 36 minutes to advance to the semifinal at the Doha Total Qatar Open. Kuznetsova took a re-match against the Swiss player, who won their previous head-to-head match in St. Petersburg earlier this month by the scoreline of 7-6 (7-4) 6-4. Kuznetsova reached two finals in Doha in 2004 and 2007 in his 11 previous appearances in Doha.

 

Kuznetsova wasted eight break points in the first set before breaking serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead with a backhand down the line winner. Kuznetsova earned a double break to open up a 4-1 lead, as Bencic hit a volley into the net. Bencic pulled one of the breaks back in the sixth game. Kuznetsova saved a double break-back in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead with her sixth ace. Bencic fended off one match serving at 4-5 as Kuznetsova netted a forehand. Bencic took a 0-30 lead as Kuznetsova was serving out for the match. Kuznetsova won the final four points to clinch the second set 6-4 setting up a semifinal match against Aryna Sabalenka.

Petra Kvitova battled past Ons Jabeur 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 44 minutes. Kvitova went down a break in the second set and saved two set points before clinching her ninth consecutive win in Doha.

Kvitova raced to a 4-0 lead with a double break in the opening set. Jabeur pulled back both breaks to draw level to 4-4 and broke Kvitova, as she was serving for the set to force a tie-break.

Kvitova earned a decisive mini-break and won the final five points from 2-2 to clinch the first set tie-break.

Jabeur broke at the start of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead. Kvitova broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the 11th and 12th games to set up a second tie-break.

Kvitova raced out to a 6-2 lead in the tie-break. Jabeur saved two match points but Kvitova closed it out at his third opportunity setting up a semifinal against either Gabrine Muguruza or Ashleigh Barty.

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Aryna Sabalenka comes back from a set down to beat Zheng Saisai on a windy day in Doha

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Aryna Sabalenka came back from a set down and a break down in the third set to beat unseeded Chinese player Zheng Saisai 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 21 minutes on a windy day at the Qatar Total Open in Doha. Sabalenka took a re-match against Zheng, who won their first head-to-head match in San José last August.

 

Zheng saved three break points in her first service game. After a trade of breaks in the fifth and sixth games, Zheng came back from 40-0 down to break serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after saving six game points. Zheng held serve for 5-3 before breaking serve for the third time in the ninth game, as Sabalenka made her sixth double fault.

Sabalenka broke serve in the third game at 30 to take a 2-1 lead. Zheng broke straight back after a backhand pass followed by a volley error from Sabalenka.

Sabalenka saved a break point in the sixth game with a service winner. Both players held serve in the next eight consecutive games to force the second set to the tie-break. Sabalenka raced out to a 3-0 lead with two volley winners and sealed the tie-break 7-2 with a croscourt backhand forcing the match to the third set.

Zheng earned the first break of the third set with a backhand winner down the line in the first game. Sabalenka broke back in a four-deuce sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Sabalenka reeled off 15 of the final 16 points to win the final three games with a break in the eighth game. The Belarusian player sealed the win with an ace setting up a semifinal against either Belinda Bencic or Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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