Berlin | Sabalenka and Jabeur pull out, Kalinskaya in final

The rain-struck ecotrans Ladies Open in Berlin saw just one fully-completed match on Saturday, when Anna Kalinskaya beat Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets to make it into Sunday’s final, while earlier saw retirements by Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur, and the Last 8 contest between top seed Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, the 4th seed, suspended overnight due to yet more rain.

It doesn't feel like a win, especially because we had such a great first set. I wish Ons the best. I think it's something that's just going to happen today, and she'll feel better tomorrow. I think she'll be strong at Wimbledon. Coco Gauff

Kalinskaya’s quarter-final against Sabalenka was cut short when the 2nd seed from Belarus retired at 5-1 in the Russian’s favour with a right shoulder injury.

It marked the first time in her WTA Tour career that Sabalenka had retired from a match because of injury.

Kalinskaya reached the semi-finals with 2 walkovers after Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova slipped and fell during their Last 16 match, injuring her right hip and forcing the Czech player to retire.

Sabalenka, the World No 3, could barely play 6 games in an erratic performance, winning only the 1st of the match, before losing the next 4, as Kalinskaya broke her, twice.

After the second break, the Belarusian sought medical assistance for her neck and shoulder area, and confirmed her retirement from the match.

Since the quarter-final against Sabalenka was scheduled for Friday, but started on Saturday because of the rain, Kalinskaya had to return to the court a couple of hours later, when she convincingly beat Azarenka, a former World No 1, 6-1 6-7(3) 6-1, to reach the Berlin final.

Azarenka, who is also from Belarus, had advanced on Friday when Elena Rybakina, the 3rd seed from Kazakhstan, called it quits at 3-1 due to abdominal pain.

Kalinskaya made her break-through this year at the WTA 1000 Dubai, where she defeated Gauff before stunning World No 1 Iga Swiatek to reach the first WTA singles final of her career, but suffered a narrow loss to Jasmine Paolini.

The Russian started this season ranked No 80, came into Berlin at 24, and now will rise to at least 17 on Monday.


Anna Kalinskaya was in impressive form seeing off Victoria Azarenka (L) in their semi-final on Saturday

© Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images

Kalinskaya brought her surging form into Saturday’s semi-final, where she fired 9 winners and faced no break points in the opening set.

Azarenka, a 2-time Australian Open champion, fought back to lead 4-1 in the second, but Kalinskaya dragged that set into the tiebreak where the Belarusian was able to eke it out.

The winners came roaring back for Kalinskaya in the decider, in which she struck 14 to Azarenka’s 3.

At 5-1, Azarenka saved 3 match points from 40-0 to deuce, but the Russian summoned up unreturned serves on the next 2 points to close out an impressive win after 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Afterwards, the 25-year-old was asked on-court: “Jannik [Sinner] is in the final of Halle. You’re in the final of Berlin. What is it with you?”

Kalinskaya delivered a lovely response with a laugh, saying: “I’m just trying to be a little bit as good as him. I’m gonna text him now. I’m so happy.”

Sinner and Kalinskaya have officially been a couple since being spotted together in Paris in early May, eating a dinner at a French restaurant just before the start of the French Open.


Coco Gauff came through a tough opening set against Ons Jabeur before the Tunisian retired due to illness

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Earlier on Saturday, Ons Jabeur became the latest Top 10 player to retire from the Berlin Open because of injury or illness, following Wimbledon champions Rybakina and Vondrousova, who both withdrew earlier in the week, and now Sabalenka.

First, though, Jabeur was involved in a 72-minute opening set in her quarter-final with Coco Gauff that the American won 7-6(9) before the Tunisian retired because of illness after having her temperature checked.

The first set of their blockbuster had been action-packed, and lived up to the hype, as both saved several break points to maintain parity.

In the 10th game, Gauff held 6 set points on Jabeur’s serve, but the Tunisian resisted and managed to come through, before the tiebreak was decided by fine details, both having set points, but the 20-year old American eventually sealed it, 10-8.

The Tunisian 2-time Wimbledon finalist halted play, seeking help from the on-site doctor, before confirming that she was unable to return to the match.

“It doesn’t feel like a win, especially because we had such a great first set. I wish Ons the best,” Gauff said after reaching the semi-finals. “I think it’s something that’s just going to happen today, and she’ll feel better tomorrow. I think she’ll be strong at Wimbledon.”


Jessica Pegula leads in the semi-finals against Coco Gauff when the match was suspended due to rain in the 2nd set breaker

© Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images

Jessica Pegula, the World No 5, advanced to her first career grass semi-final, but needed 2 days to get past Katerina Siniakova, the American finally polishing off the Czech, 7-6(2) 3-6 6-3.

The second semi-final between top-seeded Gauff and Pegula was suspended overnight due to rain, with Pegula leading 7-5, 6-6(3-1), and the match will resume at noon on Sunday.

The frequent doubles partners hit the court in what was the second match of the day for each of them.

In the opener of the all-American semi-final, Pegula earned a crucial break in the first set by firing a backhand winner square on the sideline to lead 6-5, and served out the set in the next game, saving a break point in the process.

Both brought their best to the second, fending each other off with superb lobs and passes.

Pegula came back from 3-5 down, and saved a set point at 6-5, and then she moved ahead 3-1 in the breaker when the rain moved in, and ended play for the day, again.


Two-time Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur's retirement due to illness raises concern over her fitness for The Championships which starts on 1 July

© Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images

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