(Reuters) – Holder Kiki Bertens battled past Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 4-6 6-1 in the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy semi-finals on Saturday to set up a title clash with Elena Rybakina.
The world number eight dominated the first set before losing the second to an inspired Alexandrova, but found her rhythm in the decider where she lost only three points on her serve to close out the victory.
It was the Dutchwoman’s third straight win over a Russian, following victories over Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Potapova, as she reached her first final of the year.
Earlier, Hobart International winner Rybakina advanced to her third final in four events this season with a gritty 3-6 7-5 6-1 victory over Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari.
The 20-year-old Kazakh, who saved two match points to get past French qualifier Oceane Dodin in the quarter-finals, was staring at defeat down 5-4 in the second set against Sakkari.
But the world number 25 won nine of the last 10 games of the match to storm into the biggest final of her career as she chases a third title.
Rybakina faces a potentially tricky test against second seed Bertens, who easily beat her in their only previous meeting, in the semi-finals of the Rosmalen grasscourt event in June last year.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Chadband)