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St Petersburg | Bertens sets up final Rybakina clash

St Petersburg | Bertens sets up final Rybakina clash

Defending champion Kiki Bertens edged out Ekaterina Alexandrova on Saturday, 6-1 4-6 6-1, to reach the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy final where she will face 20-year-old Kazakh player Elena Rybakina, who came back from one set down to beat Maria Sakkari, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

 

I remember that one. It was at my home tournament in the Netherlands. It was the semi-finals and I think I played a solid match there. Of course, grass is different. For me, tomorrow is just another match, another final, which I really want to win. Kiki Bertens

It was Bertens third win against Russian rivals this week after beating Veronika Kudemertova and Anastasia Potapova.

The Dutchwoman broke 3 times to win the opening set 6-1 but, after a trade of breaks in the second, Alexandrova broke serve in the 5th game to to level proceedings at 6-4.

The World No 8 was given her toughest test by the Russian No 1, but she dropped just 3 points on serve and broke twice in a row to win the third set 6-1 after an hour and 41 minutes.

“I think I started the match well at 6-1 2-0. There were no complaints, I would say,” she said. “I played a bad game on my serve, two not-so-good games, and I think she started believing.

“In the third set I was just trying to focus and stay in the match from the beginning. Her serve was not working so in the third set, so I was was a little bit lucky with that,” added Bertens.

It took Rybakina just under 2 hours to reach the biggest final in her career, having made her breakthrough in St. Petersburg 2 years ago, when she reached the quarter final as a qualifying wildcard and was ranked World No 450 after beating Caroline Garcia.

On Saturday she came back from 3-6 4-5 down against Sakkari by winning 9 of the last 10 games of the match.

“It’s an experience every time to win the matches like this,” Rybakina said. “It’s not easy when you’re match points down.

“Yesterday, so many things didn’t work out, but I’m really happy that I could do this.

“[Today], it was really difficult at moments, but I was trying to focus on every point.

“I’m really happy that I can play the final tomorrow. I think [winning like this] is helping a lot.”

Rybakina is now projected to break into the top 20 for the first time in her career.

Bertens will face Rybakina for the second time in a six-month span, having beaten her in straight sets en route to finishing runner-up at the Libéma Open on home soil last June.

“I remember that one. It was at my home tournament in the Netherlands. It was the semi-finals and I think I played a solid match there. Of course, grass is different,” Bertens said.

“For me, tomorrow is just another match, another final, which I really want to win.

“She’s a tough player. She’s playing really aggressive and she keeps fighting on the court, so I just really have to be ready.”


Elena Rybakina

© Hannah Peters/Getty Images




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