Invitationals have made it onto the grass in Berlin where Elina Svitolina made a winning return to the match court by beating Anastasija Sevastova, 7-6(2) 6-3, in the semi-finals of the bett1 Aces played on the Steffi-Graf Stadium from 13–15 July, and advancing to the final against Petra Kvitova.
I think it was a good match with a lot of good rallies... This year, we missed the grass court season, but I'm just happy to be here and to come back and play on the grass. Elina Svitolina
Action kicked off on Monday at the Rot-Weiss Tennis Club, on the stadium court named for German legend Stefanie Graf, as Sevastova and Kvitova won their two quarter-final matches against Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges respectively.
Svitolina is the top seed her and playing for the first time in non-WTA exhibition action since winning the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico in March,
In the semis on Tuesday, the Ukrainian earned the first break to open up a 4-1 lead, but Sevastova broke back to love in the 7th game before holding serve to draw level to 4-4.
After trading breaks en route to the tiebreak, Svitolina cruised through it and got an early break in the first game of the second set.
Sevastova levelled again at 3-3, but the top seed won the final 3 games to seal the match with a forehand volley.
“I think it was a good match with a lot of good rallies,” Svitolina assessed. “For what was kind of my first match [since the tour’s suspension], it took a little bit of time for me to get into the fighting spirit, and Anastasija is a great fighter. In the end, it was a good match.
“This year, we missed the grass court season, but I’m just happy to be here and to come back and play on the grass.”
Later in the day, Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, dominated Kiki Bertens from the get-go, winning 6 games in a row from 2-0 down in the second set to see the 2nd seeded Dutchwoman off, 6-3 6-2..
“Grass is definitely my favourite surface to play on, so I’m really glad that I could play here and have another match tomorrow,” Kvitova said after the match.
“It’s a good practice, mentally, to turn sets and matches around, so I was still trying to do my thing and it was a good one for me.
“I played Elina many times but not on the grass, so I’m curious to see how she’s playing on grass.
“Beating Anastasija today, she really had to play well. She likes when the balls are bouncing low, the same as me, so it should be a nice one tomorrow for sure.”
After Wednesday’s final, the second stage of the week-long exhibition tournament will be held on a hard court at Berlin’s Tempelhof Hangar from July 17-19.
Thiem takes on Berrettini in men’s final
In the men’s event, Dominic Thiem beat Jannik Sinner to set up a final against the hard-working Matteo Berrettini, who played two matches on clay in the THIEMs7 event in Austria on Saturday, won the Ultimate Tennis Showdown on the hard courts of the south of France on Sunday and is now playing on grass in Berlin.
Thiem, the World No 3, who has been busy himself over the last month, playing at the Adria Tour, Ultimate Tennis Showdown and Thiem’s 7, won 6-3 7-6(5).
The Austrian broke once in the first set and then snagged the tiebreak in the second after both players held serve throughout.
Sinner saved a break point in the first game of the second and then two more chances in the 11th game to set up the tiebreak.
In the entertaining breaker, Thiem edged his younger Italian rival 7-5, when the teenager hit an unforced error.
“I think it was a pretty typical grass-court match. Both of us served very well,” said Thiem. “I’m coming from clay, from high altitude in Kitzbühel. It’s very, very different here.
“I tried to put the ball into the court with the good quality, because I didn’t have enough time to practice and get used to the baseline.”
Berrettini dropped the opening set against Bautista Agut, but battled back to win 4-6 6-3 [10-6].
The Italian, ranked No 8, did not face any break points in the second set and converted his second break point opportunity in the 8th game before holding his serve to love to take level and force proceedings into the match tiebreak.
Bautista Agut took a 5-3 lead with a mini-break, but Berrettini rallied by winning 7 of the next 8 points to win through to the final on Wednesday.