Kiki Bertens outclassed Elena Rybakina to retain her St Petersburg Ladies' Trophy title and Magda Linette won the Thailand Open on Sunday.

Bertens became the first player to win back-to-back titles in St Petersburg, easing to a 6-1 6-3 victory over eighth seed Rybakina.

World number eight Bertens, who was due to face the returning Kim Clijsters in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships before withdrawing this weekend, was in tears after losing just one set this week to claim a 10th WTA title.

She saved all five break points she faced, securing a first title this year.

"I never expect any match to be easy. It didn't feel easy, of course, even though the scoreline was. At the end, I felt a little bit nervous, but I was just happy to close it out," second seed Bertens said. 

"I just tried to approach every point the same, no matter what the score is. Sometimes, on a break point, you go for a little more on serve, and that's what I did today."

Linette sealed the second WTA Tour title of her career with a 6-3 6-2 defeat of qualifier Leonie Kung in Hua Hin.

Teenager Kung, playing in the main draw of an event at this level for only the second time, failed to break Linette's serve and was made to pay for being unable to hold on three occasions.

Kiki Bertens will defend her St Petersburg Ladies' Trophy title on Sunday after defeating Russian number one Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 4-6 6-1.

World number eight Bertens, who has been confirmed as Kim Clijsters' first opponent in next week's Dubai Tennis Championships, required a decider on Saturday to secure a third successive win over a Russian opponent.

But despite relinquishing control in the second set, Bertens did not let up in the third as she ultimately cruised through to reach her first singles final since October.

Eighth seed Elena Rybakina will be Bertens' opponent in the final, with the 20-year-old advancing to the biggest final of her career so far with a 3-6 7-5 6-1 defeat of Maria Sakkari.

Elsewhere, in the Thailand Open, teenager Leonie Kung got the better of Nao Hibino to make the final in what is just her second WTA Tour main draw event.

The 19-year-old had to come from a break down in the decider on Saturday but ultimately triumphed 7-5 4-6 6-3.

Kung will face world number 42 Magda Linette in the final, with the Pole having overcome Patricia Maria Tig in her semi-final.

Kim Clijsters will begin her WTA Tour comeback against world number eight Kiki Bertens at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The first-round clash will be the four-time major champion's first professional match in seven and a half years, having retired after the 2012 US Open.

Clijsters, a mother of three, revealed her shock decision to return to tennis last September but a knee injury forced her to sit out the start of the season.

The 36-year-old, a former world number one, was granted a wildcard for the singles tournament in Dubai, which begins on Monday.

Kiki Bertens' bid to retain her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy title remains alive but Petra Kvitova's run in Russia came to an end as she pulled out due to illness.

World number eight Bertens defeated teenage qualifier Anastasia Potapova 6-4 7-6 (7-3) having staved off three set points in a second set in which she was 5-2 down.

Bertens will face Ekaterina Alexandrova next after she was handed a walkover when third seed Kvitova withdrew.

Top seed Belinda Bencic was ousted by Maria Sakkari in three sets, with Elena Rybakina beating Oceane Dodin in the other quarter-final.

At the Thailand Open, world number four Elina Svitolina suffered a surprise straight-sets loss to Nao Hibino, who was joined in the semi-finals by Magda Linette, Patricia Maria Tig and Leonie Kung.

Kiki Bertens wasted little time in getting her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy defence up and running with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova.

The home hope found herself overmatched against the second seed from the off as Bertens surged into a 4-0 lead before a third break sealed the first set.

A break to cut the gap to 3-2 in the second proved a false dawn for Kudermetova, who failed to win another game after that as she was beaten in under an hour.

Another Russian, qualifier Anastasia Potapova, is up next for Bertens.

Third seed Petra Kvitova found the going somewhat tougher before prevailing 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-2 against Alison van Uytvanck in two hours and 16 minutes.

"Definitely, it was a tough one," Kvitova said, following a match featuring a remarkable 33 break-point opportunities.

"I’ve never played Alison before, and she'd already played one match on the surface, and for me it was the first one, so that's always a bit challenging."

Kvitova must now take on the in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Russian claimed her ninth straight win indoors as she beat seventh seed Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5, while Maria Sakkari was also a straight-sets winner over Alize Cornet.

At the Thailand Open, top seed Elina Svitolina made short work of Storm Sanders, blowing away the qualifier 6-1 6-2 in 57 minutes.

Magda Linette was a 7-5 6-1 winner against the experienced Peng Shuai in blustery conditions and has further Chinese opposition coming up after Wang Xiya defeated Barbara Haas 6-3 6-4.

Romania's Patricia Maria Tig also reached the quarter-finals in straight sets at the expense of sixth seed Yafan Wang.

Belinda Bencic started her bid for glory at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy with a battling win over home hope Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Johanna Konta suffered elimination.

Top seed Bencic came out on top 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 against the Russian veteran in one hour and 44 minutes to move into the quarter-finals.

The world number five, runner-up at this event in 2016, struggled for momentum in a first set where she was broken three times, but Kuznetsova could not serve out the opener at 6-5.

Bencic then claimed the tie-break after racing to win the first five points and tightened things up in the second set, where one solitary break in the seventh game proved decisive.

There was an upset on Wednesday as fourth seed Konta was dumped out by French qualifier Oceane Dodin, who triumphed 6-3 6-4.

Dodin controlled the encounter with her serve, with Konta unable to break in the match and only forcing two opportunities to do so as the Briton fell to her third consecutive first-round loss in 2020.

"I don't have any pressure right now," said world number 159 Dodin, who has struggled with health issues including vertigo during the past two years.

"I'll give it my best and we'll see what happens."

Alize Cornet and Anastasia Potapova also progressed, with Fiona Ferro to play Elena Rybakina in the last contest of the day.

Top seed Elina Svitolina made a comfortable start to her campaign at the Thailand Open, defeating Bibiane Schoofs 6-2 6-4 in 79 minutes.

Wang Qiang, having already played her first-round match, defeated Katarzyna Kawa 6-3 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals, where she will meet Leonie Kung, who was a 6-3 6-1 winner over seventh seed Zhu Lin.

Zhu was the only seed to fall as Zheng Saisai and Nao Hibino also moved into the last eight, while Magda Linette won her first-round contest against Kateryna Bondarenko in straight sets to mark her 28th birthday in style.

Bianca Andreescu has further delayed her comeback after withdrawing from the Dubai Tennis Championships, where Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza has been handed a wild card.

US Open champion Andreescu suffered a knee injury at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen last October during a match against Karolina Pliskova and has since pulled out of the Auckland Classic and Australian Open in 2020.

She had hoped to represent Canada in their Fed Cup qualifying tie in Switzerland last week but ended up not playing there and has now revealed the WTA Premier event in Dubai will also come too soon for her.

"I'm very sad to announce that I won't be able to compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week," Andreescu said on Wednesday.

"I'm not at 100 per cent yet and, following my team and doctor's recommendation, I don't want to take any risk to re-injure my knee. 

"Each day I get closer to being back to the court competing, but Dubai is just too soon. Hope I can come and play in Dubai next year."

Muguruza will join the field, though, after landing a wild card for the tournament, which begins next Monday and will also feature the returning Kim Clijsters.

"Garbine has been ranked as high as number one in the world and is clearly once again playing at the very top of her game," said tournament director Salah Tahlak. 

"In the 20th year of the WTA event in Dubai, we can all look forward to seeing if she can become our 14th ladies' champion in what is certain to be a fascinating week."

Simona Halep will be the top seed, with Pliskova and Elina Svitolina involved along with defending champion Belinda Bencic and Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin.

Marketa Vondrousova surrendered a one-set lead as she fell to a first-round defeat against Ajla Tomljanovic at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, while Petra Martic crashed out of the Thailand Open.

Last year's French Open runner-up, Vondrousova made an encouraging start to her injury comeback in 2020 with a quarter-final run in Adelaide but she has now suffered consecutive opening-round exits following her early loss at the Australian Open. 

Tomljanovic battled back to win 3-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes to eliminate the fifth seed at the WTA Premier event in Russia.

Alison Van Uytvanck booked a last-16 clash with third seed Petra Kvitova by recording an impressive 6-4 6-1 win over Kristina Mladenovic, a former winner in St Petersburg.

Donna Vekic – beaten in the final in 2019 - is safely through, however, after beating Kristie Ahn by the same scoreline.

Home fans were delighted as Russian duo Svetlana Kuznetsova and Veronika Kudermetova got the better of Jennifer Brady and Yulia Putintseva respectively to earn high-profile contests in round two.

Kuznetsova faces top seed Belinda Bencic next, while Kudermetova will take on defending champion Kiki Bertens.

France's Caroline Garcia was dumped out by compatriot Fiona Ferro after her original opponent, Anastasija Sevastova, withdrew in the aftermath of a famous Fed Cup win over Serena Williams.

There were also victories for Oceane Dodin and Ekaterina Alexandrova.

At the Thailand Open, second seed Martic was dumped out by 18-year-old Wang Xiyu, who triumphed 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes and did not drop serve in the match.

Third seed Wang Qiang cruised past Han Xinyun in under an hour, while Liang En-shuo, Patricia Maria Tig, Zhu Lin, Barbara Haas, Katarzyna Kawa and Peng Shuai were Tuesday's other winners in Hua Hin.

Number one seed Elina Svitolina starts against Bibiane Schoofs on Wednesday.

Sixth seed Maria Sakkari came from behind to earn a dramatic win over qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko as the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy got under way on Monday.

The Greek beat her opponent in straight sets when they met in Adelaide last month, but the world number 89 put up more of a fight this time.

Sakkari, who reached the Australian Open fourth round, ultimately prevailed 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in two hours and 38 minutes after surviving an almighty scare.

Diatchenko twice failed to serve out the match in the deciding set and squandered a match point at 5-2, later paying the price in a tie-break where she fell 4-0 down and could not recover.

There was less drama for eighth seed Elena Rybakina as she earned a 6-3 6-4 win over Katerina Siniakova.

Anastasia Potapova came out on top in an all-Russian encounter with Liudmila Samsonova in the only other match to take place on day one of the WTA Premier event.

Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta, the top four seeds, all got a bye in round one.

At the Thailand Open, fourth seed Zheng Saisai needed four set points before claiming a tense opener that set up a 7-6 (8-6) 6-0 triumph over Natalija Kostic.

Nao Hibino defeated Arina Rodionova 7-6 (7-5) 7-5, while there were also victories for Storm Sanders, Leonie Kung, You Xiaodi and home hope Peangtarn Plipuech.

Petra Martic will start her campaign against Wang Xiyu on Tuesday, with top seed Elina Svitolina not scheduled to play Bibiane Schoofs in her first-round contest until Wednesday.

Kim Clijsters will launch her comeback to the WTA Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships this month.

The 36-year-old Belgian, who won three US Open titles and an Australian Open before retiring in 2012, revealed in September she would attempt what will rank among professional sport's most audacious returns to action.

A knee injury sustained in November meant she missed the start of the 2020 season, but Clijsters is just days away from playing again at the top level.

The Dubai event runs from February 17-29 and Clijsters has secured a wildcard entry to the singles draw, joining a field that includes Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu.

Clijsters wrote on Twitter: "I’m accepting a wild card to play the @DDFTennis. Since announcing my return, there have been a few bumps but looking forward to returning to the match court and what this next chapter brings.

"Thanks to all my fans for their encouragement these past weeks. See you in Dubai!"

She told the tournament's website: "I am really excited to be getting back to the match court. I can't wait to return to the game I love and play in front of the fans again – the support and encouragement that I've received since the announcement has been overwhelming."

Clijsters has also committed to playing at the Monterrey Open, which gets under way on March 2. She also intends to be in action in Indian Wells the following week and plans to play in Charleston in April.

Serena Williams suffered the first singles loss of her Fed Cup career, but the United States overcame Latvia to book their spot in the Finals on Saturday.

Trailing 2-0 in Washington, Latvia's fightback started with Jelena Ostapenko's win over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Williams' unbeaten record in singles was then ended by Anastasija Sevastova, who recorded a shock 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) victory over the 23-time grand slam champion.

But USA moved into April's Fed Cup Finals thanks to Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the duo winning the doubles over Ostapenko and Sevastova 6-4 6-0.

Belarus needed a thrilling doubles rubber to overcome the Netherlands 3-2.

Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich edged Kiki Bertens and Demi Schuurs 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8).

Russia survived a test against Romania to prevail 3-2, Switzerland claimed a 3-1 success over Canada and Slovakia beat Great Britain 3-1.

Germany swept Brazil aside 4-0, Spain were too strong for Japan 3-1 and Elise Mertens led Belgium past Kazakhstan 3-1.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams gave the United States a 2-0 lead over Latvia in their Fed Cup qualifier on Friday.

Kenin blitzed Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-2 to get the USA up and running in Everett, while Williams battled past 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3).

Barely a week after breaking through for her first grand slam title in Melbourne, Kenin was in the American state of Washington to represent her country.

The world number seven and 21-year-old surged past Sevastova before 23-time major winner Williams eventually saw off Ostapenko in the second rubber to improve her win-loss record at the Fed Cup to 14-0.

"It's been a long journey. It wasn't easy," Kenin said. "But I was super happy to come here and play with the team."

It was a tough day for former world number one and two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka, who was reduced to tears after losing to unheralded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Osaka, whose title defence at Melbourne Park was sensationally ended by teenager Coco Gauff in the third round, was swept aside 6-0 6-3 against Sorribes Tormo.

Japan trail Spain 2-0 in the tie after Carla Suarez Navarro accounted for Misaki Doi 6-3 6-4.

Switzerland, led by Belinda Bencic, Germany and Slovakia also boast 2-0 leads against Canada, Brazil and Great Britain respectively.

The other ties – Netherlands against Belarus, Romania versus Russia and Belgium against Kazakhstan – are deadlocked at 1-1.

Naomi Osaka suffered a torrid 6-0 6-3 defeat to world number 78 Sara Sorribes Tormo as Spain took charge of their Fed Cup qualifying tie against Japan.

Last month saw Osaka surrender her Australian Open crown when she lost to American teenager Coco Gauff in round three, and Friday's loss was a further blow in the early stages of 2020.

The 10th-ranked Japanese star lost 12 of the first 13 points on her serve on the La Manga clay and dropped the opening set in just 27 minutes.

She broke Sorribes Tormo's serve to establish a 2-0 lead in the second set but soon surrendered that advantage and was broken to love on her way to a sorry loss.

Spain captain Anabel Medina Garrigues said, according to the Fed Cup website: "We knew that Sara had the tools to make it very uncomfortable for Naomi. She stuck to the game plan perfectly."

Osaka let her emotions show by the final game and served a double fault on match point.

Spain went 2-0 ahead in the tie when Carla Suarez Navarro beat Misaki Doi 6-3 6-4 in the second rubber.

Suarez Navarro is set to face Osaka on Saturday's reverse singles, when Spain will need one more victory to book a place in the 12-team finals, to be played in Budapest in April.

New Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin can end her career with a double-figure grand-slam haul and will be world number one "by summer".

That is according to renowned coach Rick Macci, who was taken aback by Kenin's skill and mentality when the American sensation had her first lesson with him at the age of five.

Macci, who has also coached the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Jennifer Capriati, knew Kenin was destined for greatness as he continued to nurture her talents until she was 12.

So there were no eyebrows raised from the Ohio native when the 21-year-old beat Garbine Muguruza to claim her maiden major title at Melbourne Park last Saturday, and he is in no doubt it will prove the first of many for the world number seven.

Macci told Omnisport: "I'd say by summer she'll be on top of the rankings, it's right around the corner.

"She'll be in the top five or 10 for the next 10 years, she's not going anywhere because when you show up to play, she's always going to be there.

"People don't understand what they are looking at, I can see her winning double figures grand slams, she might get 15 before she's done.

"She's the real deal, this is [Martina] Hingis, [Simona] Halep but with a tremendous mental strength that doesn't blink. She expected to win the final [against Muguruza], her father [and coach, Alex] did and I did."

Macci says there is no chance the Russia-born prodigy will become too embraced in off-court distractions with her new-found name.

He said: "That will never happen, this is a different animal. She is no one-hit wonder, there is so much stability, structure and focus inside this girl.

"She was at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Boca Raton [Florida] before they went to Australia getting a massage. I said, 'So what's the game plan?'. She looked at me and said, 'To be number one in the world'.

"It was not in an arrogant way, but in a matter of fact. You can say that, but she has the goods to back it up.

"She's shown you don't have to be six feet tall, you don't need a huge serve or to have tremendous power. If you understand the geometry of the court, you take the ball early and it's a game of inches from one ear to the other.

"This girl, her mental strength is unsurpassed and she's a great role model."

Serena Williams must make changes to her game, strategy and goals if she is to achieve her ambition of breaking the all-time grand slam singles record, says her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

A shock third-round Australian Open defeat to Wang Qiang ended the 38-year-old's most recent attempt to equal Margaret Court's mark of 24 major singles titles in the open era.

Williams has lost four grand slam finals, two at Wimbledon and another two at the US Open, since her return to the WTA Tour after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.

After the American called her performance "unprofessional" in the loss to Wang in Melbourne, Mouratoglou outlined the state of play, with the French Open her next opportunity in May.

"We have to accept the fact that it is not working," Mouratoglou said to BBC Sport.

"Maybe come back with a different angle, a different strategy and different goals so she can make it.

"She does feel positive, she feels negative too because it is a failure when she doesn't win a grand slam. We didn't expect at all to be losing so early, or to be losing at all.

"We have to face reality, but she is positive that she can make it otherwise she probably wouldn't be on a tennis court anymore.

"She's not that far away, but we have to change a few things. Her level is good enough, but we have to understand what is going on. 

"There is a big difference between reaching a final and winning one."

Williams went into the Australian Open as many people's favourite to win the tournament but, despite another setback, Mouratoglou insisted her fire was still there, though was reluctant to put a timescale on how long she will keep pursuing the record.

He added: "It's difficult to know how many chances she will have. I don't know how long she is going to be able to play but being able to reach four grand slam finals says a lot about her level.

"She had everything to retire, 23 grand slam titles. But she decided to make all the efforts, the physical efforts, the mental efforts, to come back to the game, with the goal to score more grand slams and beat the all-time record."

Williams, who won her first WTA title for three years in Auckland last month, is in the United States' Fed Cup team to face Latvia this week as part of a star-studded line-up that also contains Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and teenage sensation Coco Gauff.

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