WTA

Pavlyuchenkova to meet familiar foe Bertens, Mertens cruises in Osaka

By Sports Desk September 16, 2019

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will meet a familiar foe in the form of Kiki Bertens after comfortably dispatching of Dayana Yastremska 6-3 6-1 in round one of the Pan Pacific Open in Osaka.

World number 28 Yastremska – ranked 13 places higher than her opponent – showed flashes of her ability and power, but she ultimately paid the price for an erratic performance.

Yastremska made 23 unforced errors and could only hit 10 winners in the 55-minute contest, with Pavlyuchenkova's more considered and careful approach paying dividends.

Pavlyuchenkova's dubious reward is a fourth encounter of the year with Bertens, who she lost to at the US Open.

The Russian did come out on top at the Australian Open but was defeated by Bertens in St Petersburg prior to her loss at Flushing Meadows.

Ninth seed Elise Mertens – the highest ranked player in action on Monday – sailed through in similarly comfortable fashion, beating Whitney Osuigwe 6-3 6-1.

Alison Riske had no such fortune, however, losing to fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-4 6-3 despite the latter being ranked 105 places below her in the WTA rankings.

Reigning Olympic champion Monica Puig crashed out in comprehensive fashion, as Zarina Diyas hammered her 6-0 6-3.

The day's longest contest – by far – lasted two hours and 43 minutes, as Viktoriya Tomova came through 4-6 6-3 6-2 against France's Alize Cornet.

Camila Giorgi was pushed all the way in the first set against Han Xinyun before easing to victory in the second, with her 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 triumph ensuring she was one of few to prevent a surprise.

Naomi Osaka is the top seed for the tournament, though she does not begin her bid for success on home soil until later in the week.

Madison Keys – the fifth seed – starts her campaign on Tuesday, as she goes up against Daria Kasatkina.

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    Debutant Dayana Yastremska knocked Donna Vekic out of the WTA Elite Trophy and Maria Sakkari was eliminated by Elise Mertens on Wednesday.

    Yastremska, the youngest player in the tournament at the age of 19, won her Azalea Group opener 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in Zhuhai.

    The Ukrainian teenager unleashed a barrage of ferocious forehand winners in a high-quality contest, which proved to be Vekic's last of the season.

    Rising star Yastremska rallied from 5-3 down in the tie-break after the pair could only force three break points between them in a serve-dominated first set.

    Vekic did her best to withstand the force of the 10th seed in the second, but a fierce forehand winner put Yastremska a break up and a potent backhand return made it 5-2.

    Yastremska served out the match and will face top seed Kiki Bertens for a place in the semi-finals.

    Mertens earlier sent Sakkari out with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory in the Rose Group.

    Sixth seed Mertens will face her doubles partner Aryna Sabalenka with a place in the last four on the line after beating Sakkari for the first time in five years.

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    Sofia Kenin won the final match of the day, starting the tournament with a 6-4 6-4 success over fellow American Alison Riske.

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    Alexander Zverev suffered a huge shock in the first round of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Tuesday as he succumbed to a straight-sets defeat to Taylor Fritz.

    Zverev had been in tremendous form since a disappointing fourth-round exit at the US Open, reaching the semi-finals of the China Open and the final of the Shanghai Masters.

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    While Keys floundered, Kiki Bertens made a winning start to her campaign by wearing down Donna Vekic in a tough opening encounter.

    Bertens is the top-ranked player at the event, but the world number 10 did not have it easy in her fourth meeting of the year with Vekic.

    The Dutchwoman squandered two match points in losing to Vekic in Brisbane but has now beaten the Croatian in three successive matches after a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win in southern China.

    Bertens needed an hour and 20 minutes to claim the first set in a tie-break, but raced to a 5-0 lead in the second to kick off the Azalea Group with a straight-sets success.

    Explaining how she has maintained her drive after missing out on a WTA Finals berth, Bertens said: "I really had that goal in mind and now it was a little bit gone.

    "But still, once I'm on court I want to win - and this tournament. I still want to win. [It's] really in me that I always want to win, so I think that's my drive."

    The Rose Group started with a comfortable win for Aryna Sabalenka, who saw off Maria Sakkari 6-3 6-4.

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