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Moscow | Bencic wins Kremlin Cup, Ostapenko triumphs in Luxembourg

Belinda Bencic secured her second title of the season with a three-set victory over former champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final of the VTB Kremlin Cup.

I had no pressure going into this match. We were so happy yesterday, celebrating [Shenzhen] and this is the cherry on top Belinda Bencic

Needing to reach the final to qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, the No 3 seed went one better with a victory on Sunday, sealing her victory with a 3-6 6-1 6-1 win over the 2014 champion.

Scoring the last spot at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen in two weeks’ time yesterday left the Swiss lacklustre in the opener as Pavlyuchenkova struck to lines and was superior in every category.

From a set down, however, the World No 10 remarkably won 12 of the last 14 games to take the win in dominant fashion, and score her 4th victory in 5 matches over the Russian.

The title is the 4th of the 22-year-old Swiss’s career, all of which have come at Premier level or better.

She now joins Naomi Osaka as one of two players to arrive at the season-ending tournament on a winning streak.

“It feels unbelievable right now. I still can’t imagine it,” Bencic said in her on-court interview after the victory.

“I had no pressure going into this match. We were so happy yesterday, celebrating [Shenzhen] and this is the cherry on top.”

Elsewhere, at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, Jelena Ostapenko picked up her first title in over 2 years, charging past defending champion Julia Goerges in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.

It is the 2017 Roland Garros champion from Latvia’s 3rd career WTA singles title.

Ostapenko has signalled an end-of-season return to form by reaching her first final of the year at Linz last week, and then went one further in Luxembourg, clinching her first singles trophy since Seoul in September of 2017, and ending the stellar 9-match winning streak of 26th-ranked Goerges at the event in the process.

In the first meeting between the two powerful players, both of whom have been ranked in the Top 10, it was Ostapenko, a wild card into the event, who blasted her way to the trophy after an hour of play.

The World No 63 zoomed to victory with 6 aces, winning a sturdy 83 percent of points off of her first serve, while her German opponent looked tired having had to recover from a set down in her 3 previous matches.

In the Luxembourg doubles final, the American teenage tandem of Coco Gauff and Caty McHale, dubbed team ‘McCoco’, won their 2nd title in just 4 main draws playing as a pair.

They needed 54 minutes, but 5 match points, to dispatch the No 2 seeds, compatriot Kaitlyn Christian and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi, 6-2 6-2.

McNally failed to serve out the final from 40-15 at 6-2 5-1, but the teenagers sealed the match with a break of Christian’s serve, their 6th overall service break in the match.

“I’d like to thank Coco for playing with me,” McNally said in the trophy presentation. “She’s an awesome girl and an awesome player, and I hope this is just the second of many WTA titles.

“All the fans that supported us in singles, and in doubles, that means a lot.”

Despite first round exits in their respective matches in the singles draw to Anna Blinkova and Jelena Ostapenko, respectively, Gauff and McNally beat 3 seeded teams in their 4 matches to hoist their second tour-level title.

After a semi-final appearance last week in Linz as a team, to go along with Gauff winning the singles title, the trophy in Luxembourg joins their victory at the Citi Open this summer.

“Both of our coaches, they’re telling us to do similar things, and telling us to be aggressive,” Gauff said after the pair’s semi-final victory.

“As time gets on, the more consistent we’ll be while being aggressive. We get along off the court, and so far, we’re doing pretty well as a team together.

“When we go on the court, we kind of understand each other,” McNally added.

“On the court, our games mesh together really well. Coco has a really big serve and she hits a really big ball from the baseline, and I enjoy the poaching at the net.

“We see the game the same way: being aggressive at the net and coming forward.”



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