St. Petersburg (Russia), Feb 3 (IANS) Eighth seed Donna Vekic of Croatia eased past Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-2 in the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy semi-final, ending Russia's hopes of having its first champion in 14 years.
Vekic followed up her stunning win over the 2019 Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, ranked No. 2 in the world, in the quarterfinals with a 70-minute victory on Saturday over Zvonareva to book a place in her biggest final of her career, reports Efe news.
Aware of the danger Zvonareva, a former World No. 2, can pose, the 22-year-old Vekic did not let her get into her stride, relying on her serve that was in danger just once during the whole match.
By contrast Zvonareva, who battled several injuries and underwent shoulder surgery, managed to hold her serve in the opening game, only to lose the following five games.
Then Zvonareva held serve for only the second time in the set, and created a break point in the following game, but Vekic did not allow her back into the match and went on to take the opener.
The second set was pretty much a carbon copy of the first, with the current world No. 97 winning the first game of the set and then losing the following five games.
Zvonareva held serve for the fourth time in the encounter before Vekic sealed her first win over the Russian in their second career match.
Next up for Vekic would be second-seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, who imposed her will in a seesaw first set, before taking advantage of several unforced errors by Aryna Sabalenka in a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over the Belorussian player.
It seemed like Bertens would live up to expectations against the fourth-seed as she took a 2-0 lead, but Sabalenka was not ready to quit her best St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy run without a fight, drawing level at 2-2 in the first set.
Having got past the early nerves, the set went with serve, despite a couple of break points created by each player, to a tiebreak that the Dutch sealed on the third opportunity, having recovered from a 3-1 deficit.
Bertens then stormed into a 4-0 lead in the second set that could have been a 5-0, but Sabalenka held her off for a while.
A service break opened Sabalenka's account in the second half and then she held serve in the following game for the first time in the set.
But it was when she looked to be making a comeback when she conceded her serve in a nine-minute-long final game that featured seven deuces.
Vekic will be seeking her third singles title following her maiden trophy in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, while 27-year-old Bertens will be on the hunt for her eighth title.
The Croatian won the most recent match against Bertens in the second round of the 2019 Brisbane International.