ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Kiki Bertens and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are set for a rematch of their Australian Open encounter after both reached the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarterfinals Thursday.
Bertens easily saw off Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 6-4, 6-2 in their second-round match, while Pavlyuchenkova saved five of six break points on her way to a 6-4, 6-4 upset of former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
The eighth-ranked Bertens lost to Pavlyuchenkova two weeks ago in the second round of the Australian Open 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova went all the way to the quarterfinals on that occasion before losing to Danielle Collins.
Bertens leads 3-2 in career matches against Pavlyuchenkova, though the Russian has won their last two meetings. Thursday’s win over Bonaventure was Bertens’ first match since her Australian Open loss thanks to a bye in the first round in St. Petersburg.
Earlier Thursday, Aryna Sabalenka recovered from a second-set slipup to reach the quarterfinals, beating Alison van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4.
In her first match since reaching a career-high ranking of No. 10 on Monday, the Belarusian trailed 3-1 in the second before winning four games in a row.
Sabalenka, who had a first-round bye, will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat qualifier Tereza Martincova 7-5, 6-2.
Sabalenka defeated Alexandrova 6-3, 6-3 this month on her way to winning the Shenzhen Open title.
DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.
Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.
Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.
The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.
Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Top-seeded defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria advanced to the Argentina Open quarterfinals Thursday, beating Germany’s Maximilian Marterer 6-4, 6-4.
Thiem will face Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
Fourth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina beat Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to set up a match against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Ramos-Vinolas beat compatriot David Ferrer 3-6, 7-6 (9), 6-3.
Ferrer promised to retire in May at the Madrid Open. The participation in the Buenos Aires tournament is one of the last of the 36-year-old’s career.