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Kiki Bertens wins Korea Open over Ajla Tomljanovic

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SEOUL, South Korea — Kiki Bertens won her third WTA Tour singles title of the season on Sunday and denied Ajla Tomljanovic her career first with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2 win over the Croatian-born Australian.

The second-seeded Bertens, who won the final six games of the match, was a service break down twice in the first set, but fought back to level and then dominated the tiebreaker thanks to a strong first serve.

Bertens was behind 2-0 in the second set before coming back to take a 4-3 lead with a break, but Tomljanovic broke in the 10th game when Bertens netted a forehand, giving the Australian the second set.

Tomljanovic again took a 2-0 lead in the final set, hitting a blistering forehand to the back of the court on break point that Bertens could only watch streak past her. But the Dutch player again staged a comeback, not dropping another game.

The consolation prize for Tomljanovic, who ended Hsieh Su-wei’s eight-match winning streak in the semifinals, will be a big jump in the rankings.

Tomljanovic, who has lost all three WTA finals she has contested, was ranked in the 900s nearly three years ago due to persistent shoulder problems. But she has moved steadily up in the rankings and is projected to reach at least No. 44 next week.

The No. 12-ranked Bertens had dropped only one set going in to the final, while Tomljanovic needed three sets in each of her previous matches.

Bencic beats 2-time defending champ Svitolina in Dubai semi

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic stopped Elina Svitolina’s bid for a third consecutive title at the Dubai Championships by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals Friday.

The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row against a top-10 opponent and will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in Saturday’s final at the hard-court tournament.

Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019.

Bencic is seeking her third career title, Kvitova her 27th.

Against No. 6 seed Svitolina, Bencic trailed 5-3 in the third set. This was her latest in a string of comebacks. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then erased a set deficit to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

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Bencic upsets Halep to reach Dubai semifinals

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.

In the final quarterfinal, Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain was playing Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

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