Bertens returns to St. Petersburg final, to face in-form Rybakina

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We’re still only in February and world No.25 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan has already advanced to her third final of the season at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, where she’ll face defending champion Kiki Bertens.

After saving two match points in the quarterfinals again Oceane Dodin, 20-year-old Elena Rybakina produced another come-from-behind victory to reach her first Premier-level final, winning nine of the last ten games to overcome sixth seed Maria Sakkari 3-6 7-5 6-1. Trailing 6-3 5-4, the eighth-seeded Rybakina recorded a love hold and a love break, and then saved a break point to force the third set after winning 13 of the last 16 points in the second set. In the decider, Rybakina broke Sakkari’s serve in all the Greek’s four service games.

In the second St. Petersburg semifinal, second seed Kiki Bertens cruised through the first set against Ekaterina Alexandrova and raced to a 2-0 lead in the second, before dropping four straight games and eventually conceding the set to the 28th-ranked Russian. In the decider, the favorite proved to be strong once again, returning to the Premier-level final with a 6-1 4-6 6-1.

Rybakina, who is projected to crack the Top 20 on Monday, will try to win the biggest title of her career in her second meeting with Kiki Bertens, the Dutch who defeated her in straight sets in last year’s s’-Hertogenbosch semifinals. At the time, though, Rybakina was ranked No.134.


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