The first round of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy saw Daria Gavrilova face a youngster in Anna Kalinskaya, with Gavrilova triumphing in straight sets despite an erratic performance. Kalinskaya managed to put up a tough fight despite her age, proving that she could be one of the world’s next best players in the future.
Gavrilova steals the first set
Gavrilova made the perfect start to the match as she held her serve comfortably in the opening game of the match, before following it up with a service break to get the early advantage that she would have wanted. The young Russian rising star then managed to make an unexpected immediate reply by breaking straight back to return on serve as soon as possible. With both players being especially solid in their service games, the next real chance to break serve only came three games later as Gavrilova managed to earn a break point opportunity.
Despite her young age and lack of experience, Kalinskaya managed to maintain her composure and prevail in the marathon 15-points game. Gavrilova once again earned break point opportunities at 4-3, but hit three unforced errors on her three break points, losing the chance to break serve and serve out the first set. After getting that service hold, it proved to be very encouraging as she managed to earn a break point in the following game.
However, some strong offensive tennis by Gavrilova saved that point and eventually helped her hold her serve to keep herself just one game away from winning the first set. Despite owning a game point while serving to stay in the set, Kalinskaya only had her lack of experience on the big stage to blame as she crumbled to the pressure to lose the first set after 52 minutes of thrilling tennis.
Kalinskaya earns the lead but gets pegged back
The Russian-turned-Australian had a very poor start to the second set as she was broken immediately in the opening game of the set, having made numerous unforced errors to fall behind the early deficit. Kalinskaya then consolidated the break of service with a comfortable service hold to extend her lead to 2-0.
The Russian then looked to have some problems with her knees as she was broken back and started to have some troubles winning points. Coming back from a medical time-out, Kalinskaya managed to fend off two break points to get another hold of service to remain on serve. With renewed confidence, Kalinskaya broke Gavrilova’s serve to love, regaining the lead in the second set. Serving for the set at 5-4, her lack of experience once again cost her greatly as Kalinskaya was broken for Gavrilova to stay alive in the set.
The Russian youngster looked to regain the lead as she benefitted from the unforced errors by Gavrilova to earn double break points, but her inefficiency on break points once again showed as the Australian eventually held her serve to lead in the set for the first time. Gavrilova stepped up her game just at the right timing as she broke serve once more to clinch the match after 1 hour and 54 minutes, clinching a place in the second round.
Next up for Gavrilova
Gavrilova would next face yet another Russian in Svetlana Kuznetsova, the third seed in the tournament. It would be a rematch of last year’s Kremlin Cup final in which Kuznetsova triumphed in straight sets, and she would once again be the favourite in this match.