ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina had to come back from a set and a break down against inspired 19-year-old qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova, but she completed the turnaround to advance to the second round at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
Playing in front of her fellow Russians at the Sibur Arena, 2016 semifinalist Kasatkina needed just under two hours to seal the 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.
Kasatkina struggled with Kuzmova’s pace and power early on as two marathon games set the tone for the opening exchanges. Kasatkina brought up break points right away against the Slovak’s serve, but she couldn’t convert as Kuzmova was firing aces from the very first game to bail her out of trouble.
Instead, Kuzmova won the first break in the next game after a long tug-of-war game, and before the Russian could catch her breath she found herself 0-4 down with her opponent racing ahead to take the first set.
The No.8 seed finally found her footing in the second set, gritting out crucial service holds and hanging in the points to keep pace with Kuzmova. Kasatkina’s tenacity paid off as the pair traded breaks - with the Russian finally solving the Kuzmova serve just in time to break back at 4-4 and stay alive in the match - before Kasatkina roared ahead to level the match at a set apiece.
It was a much more one-sided affair in the final set, as Kasatkina found the answer to every booming forehand and tricky dropshot coming from across the net. She broke twice to reel off five straight games and see off the 19-year-old after an hour and 52 minutes.
Awaiting Kasatkina in the second round is Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who edged past Mona Barthel in straight sets yesterday, 6-3, 7-5.