Kasatkina ends Tauson run in St Petersburg

Daria Kasatkina brought an end to Clara Tauson’s remarkable run at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Tuesday, while compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also advanced with a straight sets win over lucky loser Cagla Buyukakcay but former title holder Kristina Mladenovic fell to Margarita Gasparyan.

Clara was playing super aggressive, and I know that’s why she won in Lyon, because probably she likes to play indoors a lot. She’s going to be very dangerous on the hard courts and indoors especially. Daria Kasatkina

Kasatkina, the No 8 seed, was made to work hard for her straight-sets, 6-4 7-6(0), win over the in-form Danish teenager, who was on a 13 match winning streak coming in and hadn’t lost a single set.

The match featured 11 breaks of serve in the 1 hour and 51 minute encounter, but the Russian never looked to be out of contention, and blitzed past Tauson in the second-set tiebreak.

“Clara was playing super aggressive, and I know that’s why she won in Lyon, because probably she likes to play indoors a lot,” Kasatkina said after the match.“She’s going to be very dangerous on the hard courts and indoors especially.”

The 18-year-old Dane started her winning run by taking an ITF event title last month and then making it through the qualifiers to capture the Lyon trophy, adding a further two more rounds of qualifying in St. Petersburg.

“Always to play at home, it’s something special,” Kasatkina said in her post-match press conference. “Especially the first match is always tricky, but I’m happy with the level of the game and how the match was going, and happy to play another match at home with the crowd.”

Kasatkina just about kept her nose in front throughout, although her lead rarely looked entirely safe as Tauson repeatedly threatened a comeback.

“Of course it means a lot, because every match you win at home, it counts twice,” Kasatkina said. “I wasn’t happy about my draw, when I found out the qualifier I’m going to play!

“But it was a very good match and I was happy that I was able to get it.”

Kasatkina dominated the start of the match, the 23-year-old mixing up spins and placement to goad Tauson into a series of wild errors as she built a 5-2 lead.

Tauson’s resistance increased when her back was to the wall, and she came up with her biggest backhands and forays to the net to narrow the deficit, breaking Kasatkina on 3 of the 4 times she served for each set.

The teenager, who is ranked 96, took an off-court medical timeout for after being broken for 1-2 in the second set, and returned with renewed ferocity, pushing Kasatkina to draw on all her experience to prevent Tauson from fully seizing momentum.

A touch of magic set the Russian on the right track in the second-set tiebreak as a marvellous flicked pass off a Danish drop-shot put Kasatkina up 2-0, and the World No 58 rode her advantage all the way to a breaker-bagel and a second-round date with Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova opened her account with a straight sets win over qualifier Cagla Buyukakcay in Tuesday's nightcap match

© Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Seeded 5th, fellow-Russian Pavlyuchenkova won 6-4 6-4 against Buyukakcay, a qualifier from Turkey, and will play either Katarina Zavatska or Anastasia Gasanova in the second round, who play on Wednesday.

In the nightcap match, Pavlyuchenkova, a two-time quarter-finalist at the event in 2018 and 2019, hit 25 winners as she claimed her 90-minute victory.

The Russian failed to serve out the opener at 5-2, but did not make the same mistake twice as she used strong deliveries to close out a one-set lead on her second time of asking.

A break for 3-2, on her 4th break point of a lengthy game, was all the Russian needed to move and remain ahead in the second.

Another Russian, Gasparyan, who received a wild card, lost a first-set tiebreak but recovered to upset 7th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic from France, 6-7(1) 6-1 6-1, for a second-round meeting with Katerina Siniakova.

Czech Siniakova won 78% of her first serve points and broke 5 times to cruise past Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, 6-1 6-2.

Mladenovic has posted some of her best career singles results in St. Petersburg, winning her sole singles title at the event in 2017, and returning to the final in 2018 but Gasparyan, wild-card into the draw, triumphed over her in a two-and-a-half hours that thrilled the partisan crowd, avenging her loss to the Frenchwoman just two weeks ago in Lyon.

Mladenovic had multiple extended service games in the opening set but was still able to push it into a tiebreak, where she dominated and claimed a difficult one-set lead after a staggering 81 minutes of play.

The remainder of the match was completely different as Gasparayn wrestled the momentum away, firing 14 winners to just 4 unforced errors in the second set as she charged to level the affair at a set apiece.

Excellent angles and pristine passes flew off Gasparyan’s racket as she was equally commanding in the decider, completing her come-from-behind victory and setting up a second-round clash with Siniakova.

All told, Gasparyan struck 37 winners to 21 unforced errors against Mladenovic, and held 18 break points in the match, converting 7 of them.

Elsewhere, another Czech, Tereza Martincova set up a second-round meeting against Ekaterina Alexandrova, the top seed from Russia, after defeating Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele, 6-0 4-6 6-4, in the first round.

Veronika Kudermetova is the 2nd seed at St Petersburg and awaits 19-year old qualifier Kamilla Rakhimova

© William West/AFP via Getty Images

In other Tuesday results, 19-year old Kamilla Rakhimova scored her second WTA-level main draw win with a topsy-turvy 6-1 6-7(2) 6-2 win over WTA debutante Daria Mishina to set up another local derby against the 2nd-seeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

Wang Xinyu battled past Viktoriya Tomova, 6-1 5-7 7-5, after building a 5-2 lead in the third set, but she missed 4 match points on Tomova’s serve at 5-3 and only converted on her 5th match point to set up a round of 16 contest with local favourite and 2-time Grand Slam winner, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Belarusian qualifier Jaqueline Cristian advanced to round 2 after her first-round opponent Vera Lapko retired in the deciding set of their first-round match.

At the time of the Romanian’s retirement, Cristian was leading 6-7(3) 6-4 2-1, and she will now play 6th seed Jelena Ostapenko next.



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