Tennis: Bertens topples Kvitova to reach Cincinnati final, where she'll play world No. 1 Halep

Bertens returns a shot to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
Bertens returns a shot to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.PHOTO: AFP

CINCINNATI (AFP, REUTERS) - Dutch outsider Kiki Bertens reached her third final of the tennis season on Saturday (Aug 18) as she wore down a tiring Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at the ATP-WTA Cinicnnati Masters.

The world No. 17 defeated the two-time Wimbledon winner for the second week in a row after scoring a third-round win in Montreal.

Bertens, winner of a clay-court title in Charleston earlier this year and runner-up to Kvitova in Madrid, will fight for the title in the last major US Open tune-up event against world No. 1 Simona Halep.

Bertens, who played and won two matches on Friday after rain interruptions this week, looked the fitter of the two players in hot, humid conditions.

"I'm feeling great, I'm so happy to win," she said after advancing on her first match point as Kvitova slammed a forehand into the net.

"It was a tough match, but I'm so glad to be in the final.

"Over the last 12 months, I've improved. We've put in a lot of work to get me more fit, to play more aggressively.

"It's working out, I'm going for my shots and serves and keeping my nerves calm. I don't care who I play in the final. I'm up for a good match tomorrow."

In the later match, Halep moved into position to claim her second consecutive tournament victory after beating Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4.

The 20-year-old Belarusian had taken down three top 20 players on her way to the semi-finals but struggled to keep pace with Halep, who collected her 450th career win.

After Halep broke at 3-2 in the first set, the Romanian blunted Sabalenka's firepower and broke once more to take it. The second set was more intense as Sabalenka pulled level at 4-4 before Halep took the next game.

A handful of errors by Sabalenka gave Halep her first match point but Sabalenka fought back with an ace into the corner. Sabalenka had an easy volley at the net on the next point but with the court wide open she sent the ball wide.

Halep would not need another chance, closing out the match on the next point. The final will be the sixth of the year for Halep, who also made the 2015 and 2017 Cincinnati finals.