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Bertens to play Rybakina in St. Petersburg final

Kiki Bertens

Kiki Bertens of Netherlands returns the ball to Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2020 tennis tournament semifinal match in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Kiki Bertens will face Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy as the Dutch player tries to successfully defend her title.

Eighth-ranked Bertens stumbled in the second set but recovered to win her semifinal 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 against Ekaterina Alexandrova on Saturday. That gives her the chance to end an 0-3 streak in tour finals since she beat Simona Halep in Madrid in May.

Bertens has not successfully defended a title since Nuremberg in 2017.

Rybakina reached her third final of the year by beating Maria Sakkari 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The 20-year-old Rybakina served to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set before winning nine of the next 10 games.

Rybakina is a career-high 25th in the rankings as she heads into her fifth tour final in seven months. She won the Hobart title in January, beating Zhang Shuai, and lost the Shenzhen final to Alexandrova.