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Bertens vs Vekic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Bertens goes for first indoor title in Saint Petersburg

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 2 Feb 2019
  • Kiki Bertens faces Donna Vekic in the final of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Sunday
  • Bertens vs Vekic is live from St Petersburg on Sunday at 4.30pm local/1.30pm GMT
Kiki Bertens (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Kiki Bertens is looking for her first title on indoor hard courts – Donna Vekic is playing in her first Premier final: Who will prevail at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy?

World no. 8 Kiki Bertens takes on the much-improved Donna Vekic for the title at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Sunday.

Bertens is hoping to lift her first title of the 2019 season after a sensational career-best 2018 saw the Dutch player win a trio of titles: Her first Premier-level title at the Volvo Car Open on green clay in Charleston; her first hard-court title and biggest of her career at the Premier-5 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati; and a second hard-court title at the Korea Open in Seoul.

Bertens during her Brisbane defeat to Vekic (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bertens’ 46-23 season also saw her record several other milestone achievements, including a first Premier Mandatory final at the Mutua Madrid Open; breaking into the top 10 for the first time at the end of the season; a first appearance among the elite singles field at the WTA Finals Singapore where she reached the semifinals; a first Wimbledon quarterfinal and a 12-7 record against top-10 players which included a ten-match winning streak.

It really was an extraordinary season for the Dutch player and left her with much to live up to in 2019. But the former French Open semifinalist, once considered a clay-court specialist, has already posted some solid hard-court results despite an early exit from the Australian Open, where she had the misfortune to face multiple-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and lost in the second round while Pavlyuchenkova went on to reach the quarterfinals. Defeated in a marathon Brisbane second-round encounter with none other than Vekic, Bertens made the semifinals of the Premier-level Apia International Sydney before suffering a narrow defeat to Ashleigh Barty; and in St Petersburg this week, she has made the second Premier-level final of her career and the first on indoor hard courts, continuing to prove she is a threat on all surfaces.

After a solid opening win over qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure, Bertens went on to exact some revenge on Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals, bagelling the Russian to move on to the semifinals where she was in stellar form in a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over fellow top-10 player Aryna Sabalenka.

Like Bertens, Donna Vekic made a Premier-level semifinal in Australia – in her case at the Brisbane International, where she beat Magdalena Rybarikova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in addition to Bertens herself – and lost in the second round of the Australian Open, in her case to wildcard Kimberley Birrell in what will have been a disappointing defeat for the Croatian.

Donna Vekic  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Vekic has improved greatly over the past 18 months and from the player whose initial bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old was followed by uncertainty, backsliding and struggle, however, and she’s demonstrated that with the style in which she has bounced back from that early Melbourne loss in St Petersburg. Runner-up to Svetlana Kuznetsova in Washington, D.C. last August, Vekic was also a semifinalist in Tokyo and Nottingham and made the fourth rounds of Wimbledon and Beijing as her partnership with Torben Beltz has borne fruit in greater consistency week in and week out, a precious commodity on the tour.

Still only 22, which would make her a ‘Next Gen’ player still on the ATP Tour, Vekic had to battle to a three-set win over Timea Bacsinszky in the first round in St Petersburg but since than hasn’t dropped a set, following a victory over lucky loser Veronika Kudermetova with the best win of her career over defending champion, Australian Open finalist and world no. 2 Petra Kvitova. The Czech was clearly fatigued and erratic, but she was also given absolutely no chance to find her feet by Vekic, who delivered an excellent performance in the 6-4, 6-1 victory. 

Vekic showed no signs of a letdown in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals, totally dictating the play behind excellent serving – she lost just four points behind her first serve, served at 66% and saved the only break point she faced, as well as winning eight of 15 points played behind her second serve.

The Croatian is looking for her third, and biggest, career title in St Petersburg after triumphing in Kuala Lumpur in 2014 and Nottingham in 2017, and although her opponent is much more practiced at winning titles at this level, Vekic does have a great record against Bertens: Three of their four matches have gone the Croatian’s way. Although it’s true that the first three they played were in 2015-16, before Bertens established herself as a really elite player on hard courts, their most recent encounter which came in Brisbane just a few weeks ago was also a win for Vekic, albeit a hard-fought one: 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-5.

If Vekic can serve as well as she did in the semifinals, she will certainly give Bertens a run for her money, taking the ball early and being aggressive in the face of the Dutch player’s much heavier ball. One feels, though, that Bertens – who served nine aces against Sabalenka – should be able to win this one. She’s a better player in finals (with a 7-2 record to Vekic’s 2-4), a better mover and a more rounded player. If she serves well and is sufficiently aggressive and proactive in mindset, and is willing to attack the net, it should be the world no. 8 to get her first indoor title in St Petersburg on Sunday.

Bertens vs Vekic St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy tennis is live from Saint Petersburg on Sunday at 4.30pm local/1.30pm GMT

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Bertens vs Vekic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Bertens goes for first indoor title in Saint Petersburg

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