- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - Top-seeded Belinda Bencic won a late-night battle with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to take the final spot in the semifinals at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.

Over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour match which concluded after midnight, the Swiss world No. 11 ground down her fifth-seeded Russian opponent to win 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.

While Bencic’s serving was patchy, she made up for it with tenacity in rallies off her second serve, and was a constant threat in Pavlyuchenkova’s service games, forcing 18 break points, of which 11 were converted.

Bencic’s win sets up a semifinal against a fellow 18-year-old in Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, who overcame the tenacious Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The other semifinal pits second-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy against Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian fourth seed.

Vinci survived a scare from Timea Babos of Hungary to reach the semifinals. The Italian broke Babos when the latter was serving for the match in the deciding set, and bounced back from 4-2 down in the tiebreak to win 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (4).

Vinci struggled throughout the first and second sets, landing fewer than half of her first serves in each.

“She served so good, but today I played so-so. Especially at the beginning, I was so tight, so nervous,” Vinci said in televised comments. “I stayed focused and I won a great match.”

Vinci meets Ivanovic after the Serb beat Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 6-1, 7-5. Ivanovic limited Kozlova to just 10 points in the whole of a rapid first set but faced a tougher task when Kozlova broke her serve twice in the second.

“She is a great young player, and in the second set she started to play more powerful,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to step up a bit, be more aggressive, hold my court position, and it worked well.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide