February 16, 2020 / 4:00 PM / 2 months ago

Bertens downs Rybakina to retain St Petersburg title

Tennis - WTA Premier - St Petersburg Ladies Trophy - Sibur Arena, Saint Petersburg, Russia - February 15, 2020 Netherland's Kiki Bertens celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

(Reuters) - Kiki Bertens powered past Kazakh Elena Rybakina 6-1 6-3 in the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy final on Sunday to successfully defend her crown.

The world number eight from the Netherlands converted four out of eight breakpoints and saved all five on her serve to seal a 10th WTA singles title in 74 minutes.

Bertens improved her head-to-head record over the Russian-born Rybakina to 2-0, having beaten the world number 25 in the Rosmalen grasscourt tournament semi-finals last year.

After easing through the opening set by winning six straight games, Bertens had to stave off a spirited Rybakina early in the second, saving four break points in the first game.

She broke for a decisive 3-1 lead and dropped only two more games to clinch victory in style.

The Dutchwoman was scheduled to take on 36-year-old former world number one Kim Clijsters in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, but pulled out of the tournament after reaching the final in St Petersburg.

Clijsters, making a return to professional tennis for the first time in seven years, will play Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza instead, organizers said in a statement here

Elina Svitolina, Dubai champion in 2017 and 2018, will now face a qualifier or lucky loser instead of Muguruza.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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