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Bertens vs Putintseva tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can world no. 9 Bertens avoid the upset in the WTA Sydney quarterfinals?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 9 Jan 2019
  • Kiki Bertens faces Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinals of the Apia International Sydney
  • Bertens vs Putintseva is live from Sydney on Thursday at 4pm local/5am GMT
Kiki Bertens (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Fresh from the biggest win of her career, can Yulia Putintseva pull off another big upset at the Apia International Sydney as she takes on Kiki Bertens?

World no. 9 Kiki Bertens bids for her first WTA semifinal of 2019 at the Apia International Sydney as she takes on Yulia Putintseva.

Bertens, who progressed to the quarterfinals in Sydney via a first-round win over lucky loser Bernarda Pera and a walkover from Garbine Muguruza due to gastrointestinal illness, is also looking to win back-to-back matches for the first time in 2019 after going 1-1 at last week’s Brisbane International, where she beat Elise Mertens in three sets but lost a topsy-turvy encounter to Donna Vekic.

We have been accustomed to thinking of former French Open semifinalist Bertens as primarily a clay-court player, but although she did have some tremendous results on clay in 2018 – primarily winning the sixth and biggest title of her career so far at the Premier-level Volvo Car Open on the green clay of Charleston, and also going on to reach the final of the Premier Mandatory Mutua Madrid Open, where she lost to Petra Kvitova – it was the season that the Dutch player also proved how tremendously dangerous she can be on other surfaces. 

Bertens made the second major quarterfinal of her career at Wimbledon in 2018, but it was her hard-court exploits in the summer and autumn that really impressed, as she beat four top-10 players to win the Premier-5 Western & Southern Open title in Cincinnati and went on to pick up another title in Seoul before reaching the semifinals on her debut at the WTA Finals Singapore. Overall, she went 12-7 against top-10 players in 2018, and won ten matches in a row against the top 10. 

Now 27, Bertens should be at her peak and it will be interesting to see if she can sustain the kind of level she produced in 2018 throughout 2019 – especially now that it is expected from her. 
This part of the season has never been a fruitful one for Bertens, who had only won one singles match at the Australian Open before last year, when she won two to reach the third round before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki. With the exception of a couple of quarterfinal appearances in Hobart, Bertens has generally struggled for wins on hard courts at the beginning of the year, so making the semifinals in Sydney would certainly constitute her best start to a season yet. 

The same is, of course, true for Yulia Putintseva, who is trying to reach the semifinals of a Premier-level event for just the second time in Sydney after doing so at the St Petersburg Ladies Open in 2017, when she finished runner-up to Kristina Mladenovic.

World no. 44 Putintseva is, nevertheless, a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, having made the final eight at the French Open in 2016 and again in 2018, beating two seeded players each time. 

Yulia Putintseva (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
The 5’4” Putintseva, who makes up for her lack of inches with a distinct larger-than-life presence on the court, also made the second WTA final of her career in Guangzhou in 2018, compiling an overall win-loss record of 23-24.

Defeated by eventual champion Karolina Pliskova in the first round of the Brisbane International last week despite taking the first set, Putintseva had to play through qualifying at the Apia International Sydney, securing her place in the main draw by virtue of resounding wins over Destanee Aiava and Zarina Diyas. Having dropped just six games in qualifying, Putintseva ousted Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 7-6(4) to set up a clash with Sloane Stephens played late on Wednesday evening.

It turned out to be the sixth top-10 win of Putintseva’s career, and her first over a player ranked inside the top five. It was not a straightforward victory, however: Stephens took the first set and even served for the match at 5-4 in the second, seemingly with an answer to everything Putintseva tried, even as the Kazakh increasingly found her range off the ground in the second set. Stephens struggled for first serves as she served for the match, however, and Putintseva really stepped up on return to break back for 5-5. Stephens couldn’t find a way to keep the ball off Putintseva’s backhand in the ensuing tie-break, and the Kazakh proved devastating off that wing, setting up set point with a fantastic passing-shot winner to level the match. 

Putintseva, fired up (and demanding the crowd fire up too), made short work of the decider, playing with more and more confidence as a rattled Stephens collapsed into a morass of unforced errors. When she wrapped up the 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-0 victory, the celebration was as unrestrained as you might expect from the Kazakh.

Can she back up the win against Bertens? The Dutch player leads the head-to-head 4-1, but the majority of their matches have taken place on clay courts, with their solitary hard-court meeting taking place in 2012. They haven’t played at all since 2016, with both players improving greatly since then, so history may not be much of a guide. A lack of match fitness might tell against Bertens, with Putintseva already having won four matches in Sydney, but the Dutch player is unquestionably possessed of a much bigger serve and more power off the ground. If she can keep her unforced errors under control, the world no. 9 should be the one to come through to the semifinals in Sydney.  

Bertens vs Putintseva tennis is live from Sydney on Thursday at 4pm local/5am GMT

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Bertens vs Putintseva tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can world no. 9 Bertens avoid the upset in the WTA Sydney quarterfinals?

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