The third day at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy featured exciting matches, including wins for two seeds and the fall of the seventh seed, Kristina Mladenovic.
Kasatkina Too Strong for Flipkens
Kirsten Flipkens would take on teenager Daria Kasatkina for a pass to the second round. It was Flipkens who lost her serve first, as the Russian started to play more aggressive by hitting deep returns and making Flipkens run. However, Kasatkina started her service game with a double fault, followed by an amazing passing shot by the Belgian. Two unforced errors later, Flipkens broke back at-love. Both players were playing their best tennis in the following games, playing long rallies, coming to the net and hitting winners. It was Kasatkina who would get the break after five games of both players holding their serves. With a backhand down the line, Kasatkina won the first set 6-4.
In the second set, it was the Russian who had the first break opportunity. A unforced forehand error denied her the chance to be up on the scoreboard. It was Flipkens who now was dictating the points, forcing her opponent to run left to right and in towards the net. Her game strategy worked as she broke to lead 3-1. However, the Russian wouldn’t give up that easy and she found a way to comeback into the match. It all seemed to go the Russian’s way, as she managed to get another break and would serve for the match. She couldn’t close the match though as she committed four straight unforced errors to bring Flipkens back into the match. The Belgian showed her experience to win the set 7-5.
Kasatkina Doesn't Stumble a Second Time
Neither player was able to hold their first serves in the third set. After that however, they held their serves for the next six games. The Russian was struggling to hold her serve at 4-3, saving one break point to keep even at 4-4. Kasatkina played her best game of the match hitting a return winner after Flipkens weak second serve. It was an inside out forehand winner and a passing shot that gave the Russian three break points that she would convert after an unforced error from Flipkens. For the second time in the match, the Russian would serve for the match. After two hours and 12 minutes, Kasatkina got her pass to the second round by defeating Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 5-7. 6-4.
Mladenovic Stunned by Lucky Loser Laura Siegemund
It was a fantastic start for the Frenchwoman as she got an early break and led 3-0. It didn’t take much until Siegemund got on board with a comfortable serve game, but Mladenovic still dominated the set. A cross court forehand winner handed the second break of the set to Mladenovic, who now would serve for the set. The seventh seed hit a good wide serve that forced the German to hit a forehand into the net, giving Mladenovic the set 6-1.
Mladenovic started the second set with a break, but the German started showing signs of a comeback as she began to come up to the net more often, allowing her to finish the points quicker. The start of the 8th game began with Mladenovic making her second double fault of the match. That was followed by a weak second serve that resulted in a backhand winner for the German, who was now leading 0-30. A long ball and a drop shot that didn’t make it to the other side of the court saw Mladenovic lose her serve for the first time in the match. After that game, the level of the Frenchwoman decreased as she had to save two set points on her serve, only to lose her serve as was trying to stay in the set. Siegemund won the second, 7-5.
Mladenovic Falls Apart in Third Set
The loss of the second set affected Mladenovic as she was unable to hold her first serve of the third set. The Frenchwoman tried to force the break, but failed to convert three break points. It was a huge hold for the German who was now leading 3-0. Siegemund increased her first serve, while Mladenovic had a hard time winning points on her second serve. The 7th seed hit a great serve that forced the German to hit a running backhand that forced Mladenovic to hit a wide ball. Siegemund faced one break point as she served for the set, but saved it with a forehand winner. At the end, Siegemund proved to be too strong for Kristina Mladenovic winning 1-6, 7-6, 6-1.
Siegemund will face Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Kasatkina leads the head-to-head 2-0. Their last meeting was the final in Saint Malo in 2015, where the Russian won in straight sets.
The last match of the night would be a battle between second seed Roberta Vinci and Yanina Wickmayer. An unforced error from Wickmayer handed the early break to the Italian, who played solid tennis at the start of the match. The Belgian started to find the rhythm of the match, but still was a break behind. Vinci was playing too well, holding her serves quite comfortably. An irregular game of serve was enough for the Italian to win the second break and extend her lead. It took Vinci less than 30 minutes to close the first set 6-2.
Wickmayer’s level of tennis started to improve in the second set, holding her serve with more ease than in the first set. Vinci did not flinch and didn’t drop her serve. Both players held their serves until 5-5, when Wickmayer hit a backhand into the net handing the Italian the chance to serve for the match after a break. Two unforced errors from Vinci and two outstanding winners from the Belgian however, would give Wickmayer the break back that she needed to stay in the match. The match would go into a tiebreak where after being 2-1 ahead, Wickmayer lost six straight points and the second seeded Italian won the match 6-2, 7-6 (2)
Lucie Hradecka lost against Germany’s Annika Beck in a grueling three set match that lasted over two hours. It was the Czech who won the first set, after breaking Beck for the second time in the match. The German came back stronger in the second set, breaking Hradecka in the first game of the set. She was leading 3-0, when Hradecka came back to break her two times in a row putting the match at 3-3.
The German broke back and from that moment, it was Beck who was in control of the second set as she won it 6-4. The third set was the toughest as there was a moment of three straight breaks, giving the advantage to the German. Hradecka threatened to make a come back at 5-4, when she broke to level things up at 5-5. Immediately however, she lost her serve and gave the German the chance to serve for the match. Annika Beck needed two match points to close it out 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Elsewhere, fourth seed Ana Ivanovic defeated Margarita Gasparyan in straight sets to make the quarterfinals. Ivanovic would take the match in straight sets.
Elena Vesnina defeated Patricia Maria Tig in three sets. The Romanian won the first set 6-3, after breaking the Russian for the second time. In the second set, Vesnina needed only one break to force to a decider. The Russian dominated Tig in the third set to win in one hour and 40 minutes 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. She will now play against Kateryna Kozlova. Their head-to-head is tied at 1-1. Vesnina won their last match at Indian Wells last year.
It was a strong opening match for 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, who would take on Evgeniya Rodina. There was not much the Russian could do against a Cibulkova, who was playing amazing tennis. Early in the first set, Rodina had lost her first two serves and was down 1-3. Those breaks were enough for the Slovak to close the set 6-3. The second set was all for Cibulkova, who didn’t let her opponent win a game. The Slovak won 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and three minutes. In the next round, she will play the third seed, Caroline Wozniacki.
In the doubles department it was a good day for the fourth seeds Monica Niculescu and Laura Siegemund who defeated Romanian duo, Raluca Olaru and Patricia Maria Tig 6-3, 6-2. Elena Bogdan and Ilona Kremen also won their match, defeating Darija Jurak and Nicole Melichar in three sets: 6-3, 5-7, 12-10.
Day Four Order of Play
Sibur Arena - 11:00 am
[WC] Elena Vesnina - [Q] Kateryna Kozlova
Daria Kasatkina - [LL] Laura Siegemund
 Belinda Bencic - Annika Beck
 Martina Hingis / Sania Mirza - Jelena Ostapenko / Evgeniya Rodina
Sibur Arena - Not Before 6:30 am
[3/WC] Caroline Wozniacki - Dominika Cibulkova
Carina Witthoeft -  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
TC Dynamo - Noon
 Monica Niculescu - Timea Babos
Valentyna Ivakhnenko / Lidziya Marozava -  Andrea Hlavackova / Lucie Hradecka
Vera Dushevina / Barbora Krejcikova -  Monica Niculescu - Laura Suegemund (after suitable rest)
 Anabel Medina Garrigues / Arantxa Parra Santoja - Elena Bogdan / Ilona Kremen