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Title watch on: Bencic, Berrettini, Jabeur eye grass-court glory
On Saturday, Belinda Bencic defeated Alize Cornet in the Berlin semifinals, while Matteo Berrettini overpowered Alex de Minaur in reaching the final at London's Queen's Club.
Published Jun 19, 2021
MATCH POINT: Berrettini slams door shut vs. De Minaur
A look at some of the players who are in prime position to take home hardware following their latest efforts on Saturday.
Belinda Bencic advanced to her second final of the year after defeating Alize Cornet, 7-5, 6-4, at the Bett1Open. The No. 5 seed, who overcame three double faults and four break points to serve out an 18-point final game in the opening set, capitalized on all four of her break chances in locking up the contest after one hour and 47 minutes. In 2015, Bencic’s maiden WTA trophy came on grass in Eastbourne, two years after being crowned a junior Wimbledon champion. The Swiss is seeking her first WTA title of the pandemic era, with her latest triumph coming in October 2019 at Moscow’s Kremlin Cup.
“I’m really happy I won in the end. For the people, it’s also good for some drama. I’m doing it for you,” a beaming Bencic said on-court.
Her opponent Sunday? Ludmilla Samsonova, who ousted No. 7 seed Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-2, in impressive fashion.
A reinvigorated Matteo Berrettini continues to rack up the wins. Having missed two months after picking up an abdominal injury at February's Australian Open, Berrettini shined during the European clay-court season by capturing the Belgrade trophy, contesting his first Masters 1000 final in Madrid and finishing with a quarterfinal run at Roland Garros. He’s carried that form over to grass this week in making the final at the Cinch Championships in his event debut. Today, he dispatched Alex de Minaur, 6-4, 6-4, firing eight aces in the 82-minute victory, and hasn’t been broken since the first round.
“For sure, making the finals is a great achievement especially for the history of this tournament. To beat Alex today, I had to play my best tennis,” Berrettini told the crowd.
Having already sent Andy Murray and Dan Evans packing, Berrettini will need to overcome a third home favorite for the title. Cameron Norrie, searching for his first tour-level trophy, moved into his third final of the year (and biggest of his career) with a 7-5, 6-3 upset over second seed Denis Shapovalov. Norrie now has 15 wins over higher-ranked opponents in 2021.
In her first two WTA finals, Ons Jabeur finished runner-up. Could a change in surface make it third time’s the charm for the Tunisian? Pulling double duty, Jabeur won all four sets she played, beginning with a 6-4, 6-0 dismissal of Anastasia Potapova. Back on court a short time later, the No. 2 seed ended the hopes of a home champion by eliminating Heather Watson, 6-3, 6-3. The 26-year-old created 15 break chances against the Brit, converting two in each set.
“Heather plays really good on grass. I love playing her,” Jabeur assessed. “She’s a tough opponent. I appreciate how she plays.
Jabeur’s day at the Viking Classic wasn't over. “I’m counting on my partner to run now,” she joked ahead of her doubles semifinal alongside Ellen Perez. Incredibly, the two fought off five match points to take down No. 1 seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Elise Mertens, 3-6, 7-5 [10-3].
Fourth seed Daria Kasatkina later joined Jabeur in taking both of her singles matches when she halted CoCo Vandeweghe's strong week. Kasatkina, owner of two titles this season, dismissed the American, 6-2, 6-4.
Andrey Rublev finds himself in a grass-court final for the first time following his three-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili. Click here for a full rundown on the Russian’s latest performance and his final opponent, Ugo Humbert.