Jelena Ostapenko secured the fifth WTA title of her career with a dominant victory against Veronika Kudermetova in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Ostapenko eased to a 6-0 6-4 win in just 65 minutes, which is expected to take her up to number 13 in the rankings, the first time the former world number five will have been in the top 20 since October 2018.

An impressive week for the Latvian has seen her beat Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek, Petra Kvitova, and Simona Halep on her way to the final, and she never looked like slipping up here.

It was consistency that made the difference, with Ostapenko winning 63.6 per cent of points on her first serve, but also an impressive 58.3 per cent on her second.

She took the first set in just 23 minutes, with her serve allowing her to zip through games with ease as Kudermetova had no answer to it, or indeed her returns.

The Russian recovered well in the second set and earned an early break, but things soon swung back to take Ostapenko to 5-3 and serving for the title. Kudermetova managed to break, only for her opponent to do the same to seal the win.

Jelena Ostapenko will meet Veronika Kudermetova in the Dubai Tennis Championships final after defeating Simona Halep 2-6 7-6 (7-0) 6-0 on Friday.

Ostapenko, who is the world number 21, stunned Halep in their first meeting in the 2017 Roland Garros final to win her first Grand Slam before the Romanian exacted revenge in Beijing later that season.

In their first meeting since that last-four clash, Halep raced out the blocks to wrap the first set in just 27 minutes as she converted both break-point opportunities to take an early lead.

However, Ostapenko responded emphatically in the following set, claiming a 3-0 advantage before eventually levelling things up after a one-sided tie-break separated the pair in the second.

Ostapenko carried her momentum in the deciding set as she made a blistering start, with Halep unable to win a single game as the 24-year-old secured victory in an hour and 36 minutes.

Kudermetova awaits the Latvian in the final after Marketa Vondrousova was forced to withdraw from her last-four match due to a right adductor injury.

The pair have not met before on the WTA Tour but boast identical records at the start of the 2022 season, with both winning eight of their matches and losing three.

Two-time champion Simona Halep strode through to the Dubai Tennis Championships semi-finals with a 6-4 6-3 win over eighth seed Ons Jabeur on Thursday.

A series of upsets meant Jabeur was the only seed left in the tournament going into Thursday, but she was outfought by Halep, whose win-loss record in 2022 now stands at 11-1.

The result followed two years on from Halep beating Jabeur in the second round at the same tournament, on that occasion needing a third-set tie-break to get the better of the Tunisia. Halep went on to win the title on that occasion.

"It was a very tough match. Even if it's in two sets, it felt much harder than that," Halep said of Thursday's win.

"I had in my mind big time the match from 2020, it was so close and I knew I'd have to fight till the end."

Quoted on the WTA website, former Wimbledon and French Open winner Halep added: "I've been focused on what I have to do, and I wanted just to push Jabeur back because she has such a big game."

Halep will face Jelena Ostapenko in the last four after the big-hitting Latvian overcame Petra Kvitova 5-7 7-5 7-6 (11-9).

Kvitova led by a set and a break, and twice served for the match, yet Ostapenko prevailed to add the 2013 Dubai champion to the scalps of Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek this week.

Ostapenko, who triumphed in two hours and 39 minutes, has now reached at least the semi-finals in four of her last seven tournaments.

The other semi-final will be contested by Veronika Kudermetova and Marketa Vondrousova.

Kudermetova reached her third career WTA 500 semi-final after beating lucky loser Jil Teichmann 6-2 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes.

Vondrousova, meanwhile, became just the third ever qualifier to reach the last four of the tournament thanks to a 7-5 6-4 win over Dayana Yastremska.

Maria Sakkari is handling the pressure of playing as top seed in a WTA Tour-level tournament for the first time, as she put herself to within one win of the final at the St Petersburg Ladies Open.

The Greek world number seven saw off a stern test from Elise Mertens on Friday, winning 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 to reach the semi-finals.

Sakkari had to salvage three set points in the opener, but eventually came out on top in the tie-break at the first time of asking.

Even with a comfortable lead in the second set, she failed to take the first three match points on offer, but got the fourth over the line to progress to her first semi-final of the season.

Sakkari, 26, previously reached the St Petersburg semi-final in 2020, where she lost to Elena Rybakina.

"When you're down in the score, you try to play more aggressively and [Elise] was playing really good in the last couple of games," Sakkari explained. 

"She came up with good serves and solid shots from the baseline. I just fought hard."

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Irina-Camelia Begu stands in the way of Sakkari and a place in the final. 

The unseeded Romanian overcame two-time grand slam champion Petra Kvitova in the last 16 and defeated Tereza Martincova 6-4 6-2 in her last-eight tie.

It took just 85 minutes for Begu to secure her place in a fourth semi-final of her career at WTA 500 level or higher, but the first since 2017 in Moscow.

Kontaveit continues remarkable indoor run

World number nine Anett Kontaveit will face Jelena Ostapenko in the other semi-final, after ousting Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Belinda Bencic 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.

After her defeat of Bencic, second seed Kontaveit has now won 18 successive matches at indoor tournaments. She is the first player since Justine Henin in 2010 to go on such a streak.

Last year, the Estonian won titles in Ostrava, Moscow and Cluj-Napoca, which form part of this run.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 to take her place in the last four. The 2017 French Open champion has only lost to top-10 players so far in 2022 (Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejcikova).

Petra Kvitova crashed out of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, but Jelena Ostapenko is safely through to the quarter-finals.

Two-time grand slam champion Kvitova was comfortably beaten in straight sets by Irina-Camelia Begu, with the Romanian winning 6-4 6-0 in just one hour and nine minutes.

The effectiveness of the first serve was the main difference-maker, with Begu winning 73.1 per cent of her first-serve points, while Kvitova – who has 28 singles titles to her name in contrast to her opponents' four – could only manage 50 per cent.

Begu was set to face the winner of Tereza Martincova's tie with Elena Rybakina, but the latter withdrew because of illness.

Seventh seed Ostapenko made light work of Andrea Petkovic as she beat the German 6-1 6-2 in just 58 minutes, helped largely by winning 85.3 per cent of her first serves, as well as saving all five of the break points she offered up.

Ostapenko has now won two of her four meetings with Petkovic and will next face Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who eased to a 6-2 6-3 victory over Jaqueline Cristian.

Maria Sakkari, Jelena Ostapenko and Petra Kvitova all avoided upsets as the seeds continued to march on at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Tuesday.

Top seed Sakkari beat Anastasia Potapova 6-4 6-4 to advance to the last 16, while seventh seed Ostapenko was a 6-1 6-4 winner against wildcard Wang Xinyu.

Kvitova, the 2018 champion, took just an hour and nine minutes to see off qualifier Jule Niemeier 6-2 6-1, with the sixth seed and two-time former Wimbledon winner making a positive first appearance since being eliminated from the Australian Open in round one.

Sakkari, Ostapenko and Kvitova followed fellow seeds Anett Kontaveit, Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens - winners on Monday - in avoiding an early exit.

However, number four seed and home favourite Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was forced to withdraw from the competition on Tuesday due to a knee problem.

Bernarda Pera replaced the Russian in the main draw and fell 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to Jaqueline Cristian, who will next face Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

That is after Sasnovich held firm to beat Magda Linette 7-5 4-6 6-4 in a tight contest, with a decisive break in the fifth game of the third set seeing her through.

Simona Halep reached the second round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday with a straight-sets win over home hope Anastasia Potapova.

The former world number one, competing at the Moscow event for the first time since 2013, won 6-1 6-4 to set up a meeting with Veronika Kudermetova, who survived a marathon contest with qualifier Oksana Selekhmeteva.

Anett Kontaveit, who won the title in Ostrava last month, prevailed 6-3 6-3 against Katerina Siniakova. Another seed, Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur, retired against Ekaterina Alexandrova when trailing 6-1 1-0.

Andrea Petkovic also progressed when Jelena Ostapenko had to halt proceedings in their third set, while seventh seed Elena Rybakina lost in straight sets to Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova.

At the Tenerife Open, Camila Giorgi progressed past Aliona Bolsova 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 despite giving up two penalty games due to repeated indiscretions when line calls were called into question.

Fifth seed Viktorija Golubic lost in straight sets to Arantxa Rus, while Alison Riske was dispatched 6-1 6-4 by Donna Vekic.

Seventh seed Clara Tauson defeated Heather Watson via a final-set tie-break, while Varvara Gracheva won in the same vein against third seed Sara Sorribes Tormo in a match lasting nearly three and a half hours.

Top seed Elina Svitolina was one set up against Maria Camila Osorio Serrano when their match was suspended for the night.

Victoria Azarenka is one win away from becoming the first three-time winner of the WTA Indian Wells Open after rallying past Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals.

After dropping the opening set, two-time Indian Wells champion Azarenka stormed back to outlast the 2017 French Open winner on Friday.

Standing in the way of Azarenka and history is Paula Badosa, who eased past Ons Jabeur in the second semi-final in the Californian desert.

 

AZARENKA RETURNS TO INDIAN WELLS FINAL

Winner of the Indian Wells Open in 2012 and 2016, Azarenka is back in the decider thanks to a stirring 3-6 6-3 7-5 comeback against fellow seed Ostapenko.

Former world number one Azarenka was down a set and a break before the 27th seed fought back to prevail over Ostapenko in two hours, 20 minutes.

By seeing off 24th seed Ostapenko, two-time grand slam champion Azarenka celebrated her 33rd match win at Indian Wells – only two women have won more matches at the tournament, Lindsay Davenport (47) and Maria Sharapova (38).

"I think my season has been tricky," Azarenka said. "There were parts where I physically couldn't necessarily bring that extra level, extra fight, which was very frustrating. Then there were parts where I felt that I was looking for something to add, and I didn't necessarily know what it was. It was a lot of searching in the season, a lot of kind of stepping into unknown.

"I feel like right now I'm a bit more settled with a bit more structure, a little bit more discipline, which makes it not necessarily easier but a bit clearer what I need to do. So it doesn't take extra energy on that, so I can kind of focus my energy more on the fighting for every ball."

 

BADOSA UPSTAGES JABEUR

Spaniard Badosa added another scalp to her name by trumping 12th seed Jabeur 6-3 6-3.

Looking to become the first Spanish woman to win the Indian Wells Open, 21st seed Badosa made light work of Jabeur.

Badosa's success means she has beaten four top-20 opponents en route to the final, having stunned Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.

Having won her first title earlier this year in Belgrade, Badosa will feature in her second career WTA decider.

Victoria Azarenka booked her spot in the Indian Wells Open semi-finals after a straight-sets victory over Jessica Pegula.

Azarenka – a two-time Indian Wells champion in 2012 and 2016 – accounted for Pegula at the WTA Premier 1000 event in the desert on Wednesday.

The former world number one will play 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals after she got past American Shelby Rogers.

 

AZARENKA FLEXES TO BOOK SEMI-FINAL SPOT

Two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka won 6-4 6-2 over Pegula, who had beaten fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the fourth round.

Pegula hit 27 winners compared to Azarenka's 21 but the American had 30 unforced errors, with her 27th-seeded opponent also winning 81 per cent of first-service points to claim the edge.

"I started going for my shots from the beginning. I knew I have to apply pressure on her," Azarenka told her post-match news conference.

"I will have the moment where I will have opportunity. I think in the beginning of the match we had a lot of great rallies, a lot of points where I was like, 'Oh, maybe I got this one,' and she got me. I felt that I really just stuck to being aggressive and being consistent. I got my opportunities."

She added: "I felt that I really played well in the crucial moments. I felt like I stepped up a lot to the occasion. That's what I'm really happy with today."

 

OSTAPENKO FINISHES STRONG OVER ROGERS

Ostapenko earned her final-four spot with a see-sawing 6-4 4-6 6-3 win in two hours, 15 minutes over Rogers.

In a match that included 15 breaks of serve, Ostapenko won the final five games as she rallied to secure victory and her third semi-final of the year.

"I'm really happy to be in the semi-final. It's been a tough year for me, I've been up and down," Ostapenko – the 24th seed – said during her on-court interview. "I feel like my tennis is getting better and more consistent. Today I was trailing 3-1 in the third set and I was fighting to the last point."

Former world number five Ostapenko trailed 3-1 in the final set before finishing strong to set up a showdown with Azarenka. 

"She's a great player, great champion, such a fighter," Ostapenko said about Azarenka. "Hopefully I can just enjoy it."

Iga Swiatek was knocked out of the Indian Wells Open in the round of 16, the second seed headlining the list of casualties on Tuesday.

Swiatek was swept aside by Jelena Ostapenko in the battle between two previous French Open champions in the desert.

Elina Svitolina, reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez were also sent packing from the WTA Premier 1000 event.

 

SWIATEK CRUMBLES

After top seed Karolina Pliskova was eliminated on Monday, 2020 French Open champion Swiatek crashed out following a 6-4 6-3 defeat to Ostapenko.

Ostapenko – the 2017 Roland Garros winner – rallied from a break down in each set to reach the quarter-finals at Indian Wells, where the 24th seed hit 25 winners to 21 unforced errors in 93 minutes.

"I knew it was going to be a very tough match because she's such a great player, she won a grand slam and she's playing great tennis," Ostapenko said.

Standing in the way of Ostapenko and the semi-finals is Shelby Rodgers, who edged Flushing Meadows finalist Fernandez 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

 

SVITOLINA UPSTAGED BY PEGULA

Svitolina's campaign in the desert did not go according to plan, the fourth seed crushed 6-1 6-1 by Jessica Pegula.

Pegula – the 2021 Australian Open quarter-finalist – dismantled Svitolina in just 68 minutes for her seventh last-eight appearance of the season and fourth at WTA 1000 level.

"I think I've just been making a lot of really good decisions in the right moments," said Pegula, who will face two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka following her seventh top-10 victory. "That obviously comes with playing a lot of matches, winning and getting confidence... it's just been more belief that I can play at this level. I think this year, I realised that, and I've been having good results."

 

KERBER POWERS THROUGH AS KREJCIKOVA FALLS

Three-time major winner and 10th seed Kerber will feature in the quarter-finals after overpowering Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-1.

Kerber will next meet 21st seed Paula Badosa, who shocked third seed and reigning French Open champion Krejcikova 6-1 7-5.

"I think I played a pretty good match today," Badosa said. "I knew I had to play on a high level against Barbora. She's an amazing player, very talented. We played before so I knew what I was going to find there on court. I'm feeling good and I'm very happy that I could play my best today."

Elina Svitolina required a third-set tie-break to progress at the Indian Wells Open, while former world number one Victoria Azarenka handled an old rival in straight sets and Simona Halep fell victim to an upset. 

Svitolina – the fourth seed – dropped the first set to 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea before fighting back to reach the round of 16 at the WTA Premier 1000 event on Sunday.

Two-time grand-slam champion Azarenka joined Svitolina in the next round after knocking out seventh seed Petra Kvitova, but 11th seed Halep became Aliaksandra Sasnovich's latest conquest. 

 

SVITOLINA SURVIVES CIRSTEA SCARE

Svitolina needed two hours, 32 minutes to outlast Cirstea 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and remain unbeaten in three career matches against the Romanian. 

The Ukrainian was on the defensive throughout the opening set, facing 11 break points on her serve and managing to save eight of them before Cirstea finally won out. 

Svitolina tightened things up from there, saving four of five break points the rest of the match. 

"It was a very tough match today, and I was fighting and trying to find my game," said Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula next. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I wish I could play a little bit better in the first set, I had chances to grab that set, but unfortunately it didn't play the way I wanted. I had to fight for every point, and Sorana played a great match, I think. I'm happy that I could win today."

 

AZARENKA TAKES DOWN KVITOVA

Azarenka won her first two Tour-level matches against Kvitova in 2008 and 2009 but had prevailed only once in six meetings since then before Sunday's 7-5 6-4 triumph. 

The two-time Indian Wells champion converted break-point chances when she needed them, six of 11 in all, and had 18 unforced errors to Kvitova's 26. 

"It was important to just stay there, really take my opportunities, not to let her," Azarenka said after taking down two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova. "If she gets in the groove in couple points, not to kind of let her extend that streak, if you want to call it that.

"I was trying to still create opportunities for myself, be more aggressive, and honestly just believing also that what I'm doing is right and see how I can execute that. So intention was good. Execution followed after."

 

ANOTHER UPSET FOR SASNOVICH

After knocking off US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, Sasnovich ushered out another grand slam winner in Halep 7-5 6-4 and will next face Azarenka.

The world number 100 had 22 winners to 16 for Halep and won 61.8 per cent of points on her serve as she reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time. 

In other matches Sunday, ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to 23rd seed and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 5-7 6-3 6-4, while second seed Iga Swiatek dropped only one game in a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Shelby Rogers also advanced. 

Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic eased to a straight-sets win over Sara Sorribes Tormo to maintain her good form and book a place in the Ostrava Open quarter-finals.

Third seed Bencic needed just 88 minutes to see off her 36th-ranked opponent as she made it 15 victories from her past 18 matches.

Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova is also through to the last eight on home soil after battling past French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6).

Martincova is into her fifth quarter-final of the season and will take on number four seed Maria Sakkari, who saw off Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 6-2 earlier on Thursday.

Also through to round three is Elena Rybakina following a hard-fought 6-3 2-6 6-1 win over qualifier Magda Linette, while Jil Teichmann – who shocked former world number one Angelique Kerber in the previous round – advanced in three sets against Alison Riske.

She will face Petra Kvitova for a place in the semi-finals. 

Danish teenager Clara Tauson set up a Luxembourg Open final showdown with Jelena Ostapenko, showing off the prowess that saw her beat Emma Raducanu in Chicago prior to the US Open.

Raducanu recovered from that setback in the final of August's Challenger tournament in the Windy City, charging to a shock Flushing Meadows triumph, but fellow 18-year-old Tauson awaits her big breakthrough at the majors.

Tauson took down a former French Open runner-up and current Olympic silver medallist in reaching the Luxembourg final, beating Marketa Vondrousova in three sets, and now must overcome a player who has been champion at Roland Garros in Ostapenko.

She prised the vital break of serve in the ninth game of the decider against Vondrousova, upping the power in her shots, before serving out for a 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.

Tauson will be going for a second title of the year, having won the Lyon Open in March.

Defending champion Ostapenko raced to a 6-1 5-1 lead over Liudmila Samsonova but then began to misfire and had to scramble from the brink of being taken to a third set.

Ostapenko eventually prevailed 6-1 7-6 (7-4), having trailed 4-1 in the tie-break, and she will attempt to scoop a fifth WTA title on Sunday. Her most recent came at Eastbourne in the week before Wimbledon.

At the WTA tournament in the Slovenian town of Portoroz, Sunday's final will feature American Alison Riske and Italy's Jasmine Paolini.

Riske denied Slovenian Kaja Juvan a place in a home final, earning a 6-0 6-4 win in their semi-final, while Paolini sprang a shock by beating Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Belinda Bencic made a winning return to action as the Olympic champion defeated Zarina Diyas to seal a quarter-final spot at the Luxembourg Open.

Bencic, the unlikely successor in Tokyo, triumphed in straight sets 6-1 6-3 on Thursday to tee up a last-eight encounter with Liudmila Samsonova, who the Swiss lost to in Berlin earlier this year.

It was a welcome return to form for world number 12 Bencic after her defeat to eventual champion Emma Raducanu in the US Open quarter-finals last week.

Joining the top seed in the quarters is defending Luxembourg Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who needed three sets to overcome Arianne Hartono.

Second seed Elise Mertens also progressed, though she had to come from behind to beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 3-6 6-2 7-5.

In Thursday's other last-16 tie, Marie Bouzkova beat Greet Minnen to round off the quarter-finals line up.

Meanwhile, Sorana Cirstea and Jasmine Paolini will meet in the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz quarter-finals after respective victories over Tereza Martincova and Anna Kalinskaya.

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko booked her place in the last 16 of the Luxembourg Open with a comfortable straight-sets win over Jule Niemeier.

The world number 30 came out on top 6-2 6-2 in a little under an hour to set up a meeting with Arianne Hartono, who earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova also shuffled through to the next round thanks to a 6-2 6-3 triumph against Alison Van Uytvanck, while Zarina Diyas will face tournament favourite and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic next after beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich was made to work harder for her 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win against Lesia Tsurenko, with that the longest straight-sets match of 2021 so far at two hours and 30 minutes, according to the WTA.

Greet Minnen and Mandy Minella were also victorious on Tuesday, overcoming Nuria Parrizas-Diaz and Varvara Gracheva respectively.

At Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, meanwhile, home favourite Kaja Juvan eliminated top seed Petra Martic with a 6-3 6-4 win. Sweden's Rebecca Peterson was another seed to fall, going down in straight sets to Lucia Bronzetti.

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