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Bertens becomes first WTA player to defend St. Petersburg title

Bertens becomes first WTA player to defend St. Petersburg title

The 28-year-old Dutch took out 20-year-old Elena Rybakina, 6-1, 6-3, on Sunday to capture her 10th career WTA trophy.

Kiki Bertens wrapped up her championship run in an orderly fashion. The No. 2 seed took out Elena Rybakina, 6-1, 6-3, on Sunday to become the first WTA player to defend a St. Petersburg title.

“I feel incredible happy,” said the Dutch, fighting tears in front of a packed crowd. “It was an amazing week. It was a really tough week from the beginning since we had a tough loss last weekend at Fed Cup. But I don’t know how I managed to win all my matches this week but I’m so happy right now.”

Having put herself in a healthy position by closing out the first set in just 30 minutes, Bertens had to fend off break points in two of her service games in the second set before shutting out the 20-year-old to claim her first title of the season and 10th overall.

Rybakina, who captured Hobart in January, was playing in her third final of the season. The 25th-ranked Russian-born Kazakh, who is projected to make her Top 20 debut following her final St. Petersburg showing, has jumped 171 spots in one year.

AP Photo

Bertens, who was set to play four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters in the Dubai Opener next week, has withdrawn from the Premier-level tournament. Clijsters, who went into retirement for the second time in 2012, will now face two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, who is coming off an Australian Open final run.

“It was a feeling that I had inside, a feeling that I had inside for a little while,” The mother of three said during WTA All-Access Hour in Dubai. “Kind of talked to a few people. Once in a while that feeling would go away when I was home with the kids. A couple times it would come back. It got stronger and stronger. 

“I talked to my husband. He was like, ‘Why not? Stop worrying about why and ask yourself why not.’ He made a very good point. I was like, All right. Yeah, why not? There is no 'why not'. Why wouldn't I do it?”