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.

Simona Halep continued her imperious form at the Australian Open as she secured a quarter-final spot at the expense of Elise Mertens.

Yet to drop a set at these finals, the fourth seed produced another commanding performance to book a meeting with Anett Kontaveit.

Garbine Muguruza felled another seed, Kiki Bertens beaten in just 69 minutes by the Spaniard, as she reached the last eight in Melbourne for only the second time.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also progressed after a tense battle with 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.

 

KONTAVEIT WINS EPIC TO EARN HALEP SHOWDOWN

Beaten in their previous meeting in Doha last February, Halep had to work hard for a 6-4 6-4 victory over Mertens as she reached the quarter-finals in Australia for the fourth time.

After Mertens recovered from a 3-1 deficit to lead 4-3, Halep went on a six-game winning streak to take the opening set and move 3-0 up in the second.

Mertens rallied again to recover a double break, but Halep battled to move 5-4 ahead before serving out to love.

"Mentally, I think I did a great job today at four-all with those break points, game points," she said. "But in the end, I got the game and then I served very well the last game. I feel like I played a better match than all the matches since I'm here."

Halep now faces Kontaveit, who came through a punishing three-set clash against Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

Kontaveit recovered to win 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 7-5 to become the first Estonian to reach the quarter-finals of a major.

MUGURUZA POWERS PAST BERTENS 

Muguruza claimed back-to-back wins over top-10 players by beating Bertens 6-3 6-3 to reach a grand slam quarter-final for the first time since the 2018 French Open.

The 26-year-old, who knocked out world number five Elina Svitolina in round three, has an eye on the big prize already after showing too much power for ninth-seed Bertens, hitting 19 winners and six aces. 

"It is very good to be back here," she said. "It is one of the grand slams that one day I would like to win. It's exciting." 

Next for Muguruza will be Pavlyuchenkova, who triumphed 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 over Kerber in two hours and 41 minutes. 

Having lost the first set after surrendering a double break, the Russian fought back to edge a tight second with a thumping return winner on her fifth set point.

The third set was more one-sided as Pavlyuchenkova moved 5-2 up and serving out the match with an ace.

World number one Ashleigh Barty booked her place in the WTA Finals semi-finals, before Belinda Bencic profited as Naomi Osaka's injury replacement Kiki Bertens also retired.

Barty, a debutant at the season-ending tournament, like Bencic, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 to bounce back from defeat to Bertens in her second Red Group match.

The French Open champion made light work of sixth-ranked Kvitova in Thursday's first encounter.

Needing a victory to guarantee her progress, Barty claimed her first win over the Czech in five attempts in confident fashion.

After a break of serve midway through the opening set saw the Australian edge in front, she wrapped up the second in less than 40 minutes with a third match point.

While Kvitova had already been eliminated ahead of facing Barty, the other match was a straight shoot-out for a last-four place between Bencic and Bertens.

And it was the Swiss, having denied Bertens a place in the original field with her victory in Moscow this month, who advanced due to her opponent's retirement with illness.

Bencic started on the front foot but, after failing to take advantage of her first two break points, fell behind at 3-2.

Yet Bencic responded in impressive fashion to take four successive games and the set, before Bertens, who had taken a medical timeout, stated she could not continue, trailing 7-5 1-0.

Barty and Bencic will learn the identity of their semi-final opponents on Friday, with defending champion Elina Svitolina through in the Purple Group as Simona Halep plays Karolina Pliskova for the opportunity to join her.

Kiki Bertens admitted she was quite content sitting on the couch before making a stunning start to the WTA Finals when she was called in as a last-minute alternate.

The Dutchwoman replaced Naomi Osaka after the Japanese injured her shoulder and swiftly made an impact in the Red Group, defeating world number one Ashleigh Barty.

It was a fine display from Bertens in Shenzhen as she battled from a set down to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4, securing a first win over Barty at the sixth attempt. 

"I was okay sitting on the couch," she laughed when asked about her whirlwind day on Tuesday.

"I was really tired. But then yesterday I just hit for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better.

"Of course, it's not like after one day that you're completely back in full energy. As the match was continuing, I felt better and better.

"The movement was getting a bit better. I was starting to feel the court. I could play a little bit more aggressive, come to the net."

World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

Bertens was called in to take Naomi Osaka's spot after the Japanese suffered a right shoulder injury and the Dutchwoman promptly made an impact in the Red Group.

After losing the first set, Bertens battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Shenzhen, claiming her first win over Barty at the sixth attempt.

Barty, who came from a set down to win her opening match against Belinda Bencic, was the first player to qualify for the season-ending tournament back in early September but she failed to justify her tag as favourite for the title in a largely disjointed display.

It was a contest in which breaks of serve were frequent and a run of five defined the opener, Barty edging that back-and-forth to nudge ahead.

She was a break up in the second as a similar pattern emerged, but a first-serve percentage of just 41 was always likely to prove problematic and Bertens was producing more winners to further tip the balance in her favour.

With Barty serving at 4-3 down, Bertens sensed her opportunity and was the primary aggressor, striking for the lines and putting the French Open champion on the back foot.

Having fought to take the contest into a third set, Bertens was in no mood to relent and she stormed into a 4-0 lead, even fluffing two break-point openings to make it 5-0.

Despite a rally that saw the gap cut to 4-3, the die was cast and Barty was consigned to defeat in a clash that lasted over two hours.

World number three Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen due to a right shoulder injury.

The Japanese opened her campaign with a three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday but has deemed herself unfit to take part in her second Red Group match against Ash Barty on Tuesday.

She will be replaced by Kiki Bertens.

In a statement, Osaka said: "I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the Finals.

"It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year. This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year."

Osaka ends her year on an 11-match unbeaten run having not tasted defeat since her US Open title defence ended at the hands of Belinda Bencic at the round of 16 stage in September.

Since then, the 22-year-old has registered title wins in Osaka and Beijing.

Aryna Sabalenka defeated top seed Kiki Bertens in straight sets in the WTA Elite Trophy final on Sunday.

Belarusian fourth seed Sabalenka upstaged Bertens 6-4 6-2 as she closed out her singles season with victory in Zhuhai.

Bertens was the favourite to reign supreme after reaching her fifth final of 2019 by rallying past Zheng Saisai in the semis, while Sabalenka prevailed against Karolina Muchova.

But Sabalenka – who won 81 per cent of his first serves – was too good as she claimed her third singles title of the year.

Sabalenka had already secured victory at the Shenzhen Open and Wuhan Open, with the world number 14 taking her career tally to five titles – four of those coming on Chinese soil.

WTA Elite Trophy favourite Kiki Bertens reached her fifth final of 2019 as she battled from behind to beat Zheng Saisai in Zhuhai.

Bertens narrowly missed out on a place in the season-ending WTA Finals, but she will have the chance to claim a third trophy of the year thanks to a hard-fought 2-6 6-3 6-4 triumph on Saturday.

The Dutchwoman found herself a set and a break down at 6-2 2-1 but rallied to take nine of the next 11 games.

Despite Bertens holding a 4-1 lead in the deciding set, Chinese home favourite Zheng pressed back, breaking serve in a 13-minute eighth game to draw level.

But Zheng's resolve was swiftly undone as Bertens broke back, before the world number 10 served out the win to clinch a place in the final, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka.

World number 14 Sabalenka beat Czech Karolina Muchova 7-5 7-6 (7-4) to reach Sunday's title match.

A deciding third set looked likely at one stage, but it was Belarusian Sabalenka who finally held her nerve, the match finishing on an error when Muchova drilled a slack forehand into the net.

Kiki Bertens secured a place in the semi-finals of the WTA Elite Trophy with a straight-sets win over Dayana Yastremska.

The top seed defeated the Ukrainian teenager in their only previous meeting at the China Open last month and repeated the feat in routine fashion in Zhuhai.

Bertens prevailed 6-4 6-3, ensuring she progresses from the Azalea Group ahead of Yastremska, with both players having beaten Donna Vekic in their other match.

Karolina Muchova condemned Alison Riske to an exit from the tournament as she came from behind to beat the American in the Czech's debut in southern China.

Muchova was the last player to qualify for the Elite Trophy and twice needed to stage a fightback to start her campaign with a triumph.

She recovered from losing the first set to force a decider and, after going down 3-1 in the third, again showed her powers of resilience to prevail 2-6 6-2 7-5.

Muchova's match with second seed Sofia Kenin will decide who progresses from the Camellia Group.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys fell out of contention despite beating Petra Martic 6-3 6-4.

Martic's meeting with Zheng Saisai will decide who goes through from the Orchid Group. Zheng needs to win only seven games regardless of the result to progress. Martic must win and can concede no more than six games.

Kiki Bertens look set to miss out on the WTA Finals following a Kremlin Cup quarter-final defeat to Kristina Mladenovic, which left the door open for Belinda Bencic to make her Shenzhen debut.

Bertens missed out on a place in the last four in Moscow when she was beaten 6-4 2-6 6-1 by the unseeded Mladenovic.

The second seed will require a withdrawal to feature in the season-ending tournament in China after failing to climb above the eighth-placed Serena Williams in the standings.

Mladenovic mixed up her game with skill and intelligence and faces a semi-final showdown with Bencic next.

Bencic will move ahead of both Bertens and Williams to grab a Shenzhen spot if she records one more win following a 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 result against qualifier Kirsten Flipkens on Friday.

The Swiss third seed, who has never played in the WTA Finals, drew on her fighting spirit to come from 4-1 down in the opening set and edged a tie-break after saving two set points, then dominated the second set.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Muchova will contest the other semi-final after getting the better of Veronika Kudermetova and Ekaterina Alexandrova respectively.

Meanwhile, defending champion Julia Goerges rallied from a set down to beat Monica Puig 1-6 6-2 6-3 and reach the last four of the Luxembourg Open.

The German will take on Elena Rybakina, a 6-0 6-4 winner against Laura Siegemund, while Jelena Ostapenko and Anna Blinkova will also do battle for a place in the final.

 

 

Veronika Kudermetova upset top seed Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup and Jelena Ostapenko fought back to knock Elise Mertens out of the Luxembourg Open on Thursday.

Kudermetova came out on top in her first match against a top-five opponent, defeating Svitolina 6-1 2-6 7-5 in Moscow.

The 22-year-old Russian wrapped up the opening set in only 28 minutes and came from 2-0 down in the decider to move into the quarter-finals.

Kudermetova's attacking approach paid off, world number four Svitolina showing resolve in the final set but missing out on a last-eight showdown with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Second seed Kiki Bertens advanced with 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Kaia Kanepi, while Pavlyuchenkova won an all-Russian contest with Varvara Gracheva 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Kristina Mladenovic will face Bertens after battling her way past sixth seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The top seed also bowed out Luxembourg, with Ostapenko digging deep to see off Mertens 4-6 6-2 6-2.

Ostapenko, runner-up to Coco Gauff at the Linz Open last weekend, will now come up against Antonia Lottner, who went through when Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee injury after losing the first set 6-1.

Defending champion Julie Goerges saw off Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Anna Blinkova and Monica Puig also made it through, defeating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (8-6). 

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