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Sabalenka vs Bertens WTA St. Petersburg Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Top-ten stars Sabalenka and Bertens clash in St. Petersburg semi-final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 1 Feb 2019
  • Aryna Sabalenka vs Kiki Bertens is live from St. Petersburg on Saturday, 2 February from 2:00pm local time/ 11:00am GMT
  • Bertens won their two previous meetings
Aryna Sabalenka. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Top-ten stars, Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka go head-to-head on Saturday as they battle for a spot in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. 

Sabalenka is targeting her second final of the season, having already won a title in Shenzhen earlier in the year, while Bertens is seeking her first final of the year, with her previous best being a semi-final in Sydney.

Sabalenka's meteoric rise was one of the stories of 2018, as the Belarusian jumped from outside the top 70 to the brink of the top ten after winning titles in New Haven and Wuhan and reaching finals in Lugano and Eastbourne. She has continued that progress at the start of 2019, opening with a title run in Shenzhen, where she got past Maria Sharapova (via retirement), and Alison Riske in the final to claim her third WTA title. 

She got a really rough draw in Sydney, where she fell to Petra Kvitova in the first round, but she looked good in the opening couple of rounds at the Australian Open, beating Anna Kalinskaya and Katie Boulter in straight sets. Sabalenka was seen as a genuine threat in Melbourne, but she came unstuck in the third round, suffering a surprisingly straightforward loss to rising American teenager, Amanda Anisimova.

Despite that setback, the Belarusian broke into the top ten after the Australian Open, and she is set to rise higher next Monday after another strong week in St. Petersburg. The 20-year-old, who is projected to move above Caroline Wozniacki into ninth, has powered into the semi-finals without dropping a set, beating Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1 6-4, before dismissing powerful Russian, Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 in Friday's quarter final. She didn’t have things all her way against qualifier, Alexandrova, who hit one more winner than the world No. 10, but Sabalenka played the big points better and moved on safely with a straight-sets victory.

"I couldn’t find the rhythm of the game and it was always up and down, but finally I was happy that I finished it on my side," Sabalenka said after the match.  
"It was a lot of crazy shots today… That’s why I probably couldn’t find the rhythm of the game, because it was, like, unforced error from her, then winner from her, then winner from me, then an ace, then a double fault, and you’re always like, ‘What’s going on here today?’ I’m happy that finally I found a way out to win this match."

She will face her biggest challenge of the week on Saturday when she confronts Bertens.


Bertens also had an excellent 2018, erasing the perception that she was just a clay-court player with some superb results on the quicker surfaces. She was of course good on clay, winning the title on Charleston and making the final in Madrid, but it was her efforts on grass and hard courts that really propelled her into the top ten.

Kiki Bertens. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Bertens notably won titles in Cincinnati and Seoul, and made the quarter finals at Wimbledon, where she defeated Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams, before falling to Julia Goerges.

Although she is yet to make a final this year, she hasn't play particularly badly, and has been on the wrong end of some really tight matches. She opened the new season in Brisbane, where she lost to Donna Vekic in the second round, despite holding two match points, but she responded positively with a strong showing in Sydney, reaching the semi-finals before falling to Ashleigh Barty, 7-5 in the deciding set after two hours and 20 minutes.

Bertens got a tough early draw at the Australian Open, and was sent packing by the dangerous Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round, but she got her revenge in St. Petersburg on Friday, pulling off a 6-2 3-6 6-0 victory to terminate a run of two straight losses against the Russian. Bertens' serving laid the foundations for the win, as she won 77% of points on her first serve and 64% on her second, facing just three break points in the entire match. By contrast, Pavlyuchenkova conceded 13 break points and was broken six times. The Dutchwoman also kept things very clean, hitting 31 winners and 21 unforced errors.

Bertens and Sabalenka head into Saturday's contest in very fine form, which makes this one very difficult to call. The head-to-head reads 2-0 in Bertens' favour, but that is a little misleading. The first meeting was a tight three-setter in the Fed Cup in 2017, and the second, a 6-2 6-1 victory at Roland Garros last season.

Bertens clearly profited from her clay-court expertise in that Roland Garros meeting, but it's a completely different ball game on the indoor hard courts of St. Petersburg, which should accentuate Sabalenka's power. Bertens, of course, is no slouch in power-hitting, and she hits with better margin.

It should be a quality, compelling contest between two of the best players in the world.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Kiki Bertens is live from St. Petersburg on Saturday, 2 February from 2:00pm local time/ 11:00am GMT

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Sabalenka vs Bertens WTA St. Petersburg Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Top-ten stars Sabalenka and Bertens clash in St. Petersburg semi-final

Aryna Sabalenka and Kiki Bertens battle for a spot in the St. Petersburg final on Saturday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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