St. Petersburg SF: (1) Belinda Bencic vs Daria Kasatkina
The only teenagers in the top 50 will go head-to-head in the second semi-final of the day in St. Petersburg on Saturday when Belinda Bencic comes up against Dara Kasatkina. This will be the first meeting between the two most promising teenagers and good friends at the tour level. Bencic seems to have a clear edge heading into this match, mostly because she is clearly the fresher of the two but Kasatkina will not go down easily.
After an incredible weekend which saw Bencic guide Switzerland to a memorable Fed Cup victory over Germany, Bencic has not been at her best in St. Petersburg but has managed to find a way to win despite not playing great. The top seed started the week with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 victory over Annika Beck before coming from behind to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7 6-4 6-2. Bencic was actually pretty lucky to get the victory over Anastasia, the Russian had her chances to close the match out in straight sets but was unable to take her chances. Bencic’s ability to win matches when she isn’t necessarily playing well is one of her greatest strengths, she continues to show maturity beyond her years.
Daria Kasatkina continues to climb up the rankings, the Russian is now into her first premier level semi-final courtesy of a strong run in St. Petersburg. Kasatkina started the week with an extremely tough three set battle against Kirsten Flipkens before defeating Laura Siegemund in straight sets. It was at the quarter-final stage where Kasatkina made her biggest move, coming from a set down to defeat Dominika Cibulkova 4-6 7-5 6-3. The problem for Kasatkina is that she played over 4 hours of tennis on Friday as her doubles match finished after 1am on Saturday morning. It will take a big effort from Kasatkina to recover and be competitive on Saturday evening.
These two are similar in many aspects but Bencic is clearly more experienced in bigger matches and will head into this match feeling much fresher than Kasatkina. Bencic is more solid from the baseline and should be too strong for Kasatkina on this occasion. Bencic will make it very hard for Kasatkina just to win points.