Sat, Apr 06, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Sakkari dominates Bertens to advance at Volvo Car Open


Defending champion Kiki Bertens on Thursday suffered a surprise 7-6 (10/8), 6-3 loss to world No. 50 Maria Sakkari in the third round of the Volvo Car Open in South Carolina.

On a day when top seed Sloane Stephens survived a scare before beating Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, Sakkari showcased supreme court coverage skills throughout her almost two-hour match against Bertens.

Sakkari clinched the match after breaking the second-seeded Dutchwoman, who was playing on her preferred clay surface, for the seventh time in the contest.

Sakkari, the 15th seed, saved four set points in the opener and held steady the rest of the way to secure her third career top-10 victory following wins over Caroline Wozniacki in 2017 and Karolina Pliskova last year.

Up next for Sakkari will be fifth seed Wozniacki, who beat 12th-seeded Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In the late match, Australian Tomljanovic won the first set with an exquisite backhand drop volley that American Stephens could not retrieve.

Tomljanovic reeled off 13 straight points early in the second set, hitting a series of winners to race to a 3-0 lead, but Stephens wrested back the momentum as quickly as she had lost it.

Croatian-born Tomljanovic continued to go for her shots in the final set, but while she hit more winners than her opponent, Stephens prevailed by making fewer errors.

Earlier on Thursday, ninth seed Belinda Bencic extended her fine form with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Taylor Townsend to reach the quarter-finals, while Petra Martic beat Jessica Pegula 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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