Sabalenka, Mertens win to advance to Linz final

Elise Mertens from Belgium. (Ti-Press/Pablo Gianinazzi/KEYSTONE via AP)

LINZ, Austria — Top-seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens had three-set wins to advance to the final of the season-ending Upper Austria Ladies Linz on Saturday.

The 11th-ranked Sabalenka outlasted Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, and Mertens rallied to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

By reaching the final, Sabalenka will enter the top 10 of the WTA rankings for the first time, overtaking Serena Williams.

Sabalenka and Mertens are regular doubles partners on the tour.

Sabalenka is after her eighth career title and third of the season. Apart from Simona Halep, no other player has won three events in the shortened 2020 season.

The 21st-ranked Mertens could win her sixth title, but first of the year.

In the second semifinal, Sabalenka led by a set and a break in the second when Krejcikova battled her way back into the match.

Krejcikova had two breaks to take the match into a final set, which went with serve until Sabalenka got another break at 4-4 and wrapped up the win on her serve.

Earlier, Mertens lost five straight games from 2-1 up in the opening set against Alexandrova.

Mertens eased through the second set but was broken while serving for the match in the third. However, she dropped only three points in the next two games to close out the win.

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