WTA St. Petersburg: Day Five Recap
Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website

WTA St. Petersburg: Day Five Recap

Ivanovic, Vinci and Bencic are all into the semifinals. Russia's Daria Kasatkina surprises Dominika Cibulkova.

Liliana Martinez

It was a tough day for Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci who managed to win their matches after a three set battle. Ana Ivanovic is through her first semifinal of the season and Daria Kasatkina keeps surprising us. All that and more at the Day Five at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy

Vinci Survived Scare to Reach Semifinals

Timea Babos gave Roberta Vinci a hard time in a match that lasted two hours and thirty-five minutes that was won by the  Italian,  7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6(4). A failed attempt of a drop shot gave Babos the lead she kept until she was serving for the first set when the Italian broke after Babos did the same mistake Vinci did when she gave in her break. The first set was decided in a tiebreak that started with an exchange of breaks, but it was Vinci who played more solid and won the first set.

Only one break was needed for the Hungarian to take the second set, both players were playing their best tennis, but an unforced error from Vinci cost her serve. Timea Babos won the second set, 6-4. The Hungarian broke in the first game of the deciding set and it seemed like that break was going to be enough for her to win the match. At 5-4, Babos was four points away from the semifinals, but a tenacious Roberta Vinci wouldn’t go down without a fight and her fighting spirit worked when she broke her opponent to level things 5-5. Once again, the set would be decided in a tiebreak. Timea Babos lead 4-2 in the tiebreak, but the Italian went and won the next five points winning a spot in the semifinals against Ana Ivanovic.

Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website
Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website

First Semifinal of the Season for Ana Ivanovic

Things were less complicated for the Serbian, Ana Ivanovic as she would take on Kateryna Kozlova in the second quarterfinal match of the day. It was a very solid set of tennis from the fourth seed who played probably her best set of the tournament so far, winning eight out of eleven points on her first serve. Ivanovic started the match with a very good serve that forced her opponent to make the error, leaving her return on the net. The Serbian held her composure at the stressful moments when her serve was threatened and she also took her two break opportunities to serve for the first set.

Ana Ivanovic won the first set in under thirty minutes, 6-1. In the second set, Ivanovic broke but only to lose her lead in the next game as the Ukrainian broke back. It was again the Serbian who was in the lead after an outstanding forehand winner that gave her the break. Ivanovic now had the responsibility to close the match with her serve, but Kozlova prolonged the match after a wide forehand from the Serbian. Ivanovic played more aggressive in the following game, breaking Kozlova to love to serve again for the match. Only one match point was needed for the Serbian to win the match 6-1, 7-5.

Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website
Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website

Roberta Vinci - Ana Ivanovic

Tomorrow the first semifinal will be between the second and the fourth seed. This will be the 10th match between these players. Ana Ivanovic leads the head-to-head 6-3. Their last meeting was in 2013 at Carlsbad in the quarterfinals stage, the Serbian won 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-2.

Kasatkina Sets Up Semifinals Clash Against Bencic

Qualifier, Daria Kasatkina has been playing amazing tennis this week at St. Petersburg beating Kirsten Flipkens, Laura Siegemund and now Dominika Cibulkova to reach her second career semifinal. Dominika Cibulkova came from a very solid win against former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, but it was early in the match when she realized it wasn’t going to be an easy match against the young Russian. Kasatkina won the first game of the match, breaking the Slovak, but at the sixth game of the set three unforced errors and an amazing forehand winner from Cibulkova cost her the lead.

Things were going the right way for Cibulkova as she broke the Russian again to close the first set 6-4. However, Kasatkina wouldn’t give up so easily and once again broke the Slovak in the first game of the second set. The inconsistency of the Russian was showed when she couldn’t close the set at 5-3 where she lost five set points. A second opportunity to wrap the set was thrown away and Cibulkova trailed to be 5-5. The Russian broke back and would have a third opportunity to close the second set.

After almost an hour, the Russian put the match one set all. Both players had break points in the first four games of the third set, but it was Kasatkina who got the first break only to be break again one game later. Again, the Russian missed her chance to close the match but she fixed that mistake quickly breaking Cibulkova to love to win the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Belinda Bencic Suffers but Advances to the Semifinals.

Number one seed had some problems in her quarterfinal match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova that lasted two hours and thirty-six minutes resulting in a win for the Swiss 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. Belinda Bencic’s serve was not the best during the first set only winning nine out of twenty-two points on her first serve. At the third game, she saved two break points but was unable to repeat that in the sixth game when Pavlyuchenkova broke.

The lead didn’t last much for the Russian as she lost her serve straightaway. The next fourth games were a series of breaks that forced the set to be decided in a tiebreak. Again, Bencic struggled with her serve only holding once during the tiebreak. The Russian won 7-6 (4). Bencic improved her serve in the second set increasing it from 54% to 61%. The Swiss got two consecutive breaks that put her in the lead. She needed two set points to grab the second set 6-4.

After that second set, Pavlyuchenkova faded and Belinda Bencic started playing like the top seed, breaking her opponent twice at the start of the deciding set. An unforced error handed the victory to Belinda Bencic.

Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website
Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Official Website

Belinda Bencic - Daria Kasatkina

It doesn’t come as a surprise that this will be the first meeting between these players. The second semifinal will offer the top seed of the tournament against the local player. This is Kasatkina’s second semifinal, the first one was in the Kremlin Cup last year. It’s clear that the Russian plays her best tennis when she is playing in her country.

Doubles Recap

Second seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka are out of the tournament after falling to Vera Dushevina and Barbora Krejcikova 3-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8. They await in the final for the winners of Hingis/Mirza - Medina Garrigues/Parra Santonja.

Fresh from her singles win, Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina faced the top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. It was another great performance by the three times Grand Slam champions defeating the Russian duo 6-4, 6-1.

Day Six Order of Play

Sibur Arena - 2:00 pm

[4] Ana Ivanovic - [2] Roberta Vinci

[1] Belinda Bencic - Daria Kasatkina

[1] Martina Hingis / Sania Mirza - [3] Anabel Medina Garrigues / Arantxa Parra Santonja