The stakes are high as the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy heads into the final weekend. WTA Insider highlights the major storylines from Russia.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
February 2, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - The Top 10 beckons for Germany's Julia Goerges and Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski, while Daria Kasatkina continues to find her best tennis on Russian soil.

WTA Insider breaks down the big storylines at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. 

Julia Goerges Edges Towards Top 10 Debut

Julia Goerges is a win away from confirming her Top 10 debut. The 29-year-old German advanced to the semifinals at the. St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Friday, defeating 18-year-old Russian qualifier Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-3.

Having won the Kremlin Cup last fall, the win extended Goerges' winning streak in Russia to eight consecutive matches. As she surges towards the Top 10, the German has now won 18 of her last 19 matches.

Goerges will make her Top 10 debut on Monday if:

- She advances to the St. Petersburg final, or
- Kristina Mladenovic fails to defend her St. Petersburg title. Mladenovic advanced to the semifinals and will play either top seed Caroline Wozniacki or Daria Kasatkina.

"If it would happen it's a nice thing, but as you probably know me, I'm not really crunching the numbers," Goerges said after her second-round win over Roberta Vinci. "It would just be a number in front of my name. 

"Of course it's a big bridge or goal that players are having, but I don't put much pressure on myself to achieve it because I think I put already the right moves in this direction so we'll see where it brings me." 

Since the WTA Rankings were introduced in November 1975, 124 players have reached the Top 10. Goerges is bidding to join the group of seven Germans who have reached the Top 10: Sylvia Hanika, Bettina Bunge, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Stefanie Graf, Anke Huber, Andrea Petkovic, and Angelique Kerber.

If Goerges is able to join No.9 Kerber in the Top 10 on Monday, it would be the first time two Germans are ranked in the Top 10 since September 1997 (Graf, Huber). If Goerges wins the St. Petersburg title, which would be her second title of 2018, she will overtake Kerber as the top-ranked German. 

Dabrowksi Knocking on Door of Doubles Top 10

Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yi-fan are through to the semifinals in St. Petersburg. If they advance to the final, Dabrowski is projected to move into the WTA Doubles Top 10.

She would be the fourth Canadian to reach the WTA Top 10 in either singles or doubles joining Carling Bassett-Seguso (singles), Eugenie Bouchard (singles) and Jill Hetherington (doubles). 

Daria Kasatkina Enjoys Some Home Cooking.

The 20-year-old Russian scored her second win over a reigning No.1, ousting Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(2), 6-3 to advance to the semifinals in St. Petersburg. 

Most Wins vs. World No.1s Before 21st Birthday (Active Players)

9 - Venus Williams
8 - Serena Williams
4 - Maria Sharapova
2 - Svetlana Kuznetsova
2 - Daria Kasatkina

 
Kasatkina is into her fifth semifinal, with four of her runs coming on Russian soil (2015 Moscow, 2016 St. Petersburg, 2017 Moscow, 2018 St. Petersburg). 

"I think I just love to play in front of my crowd because I don't spend that much time in Russia," Kasatkina told WTA Insider. "I'm happy to come here, to speak to Russian people, to spend time with my friends. For me, I like this energy. It pumps me up. I want to be here as long as possible."

Is Kristina Mladenovic back?

Mladenovic snapped her 15-match losing streak in by defeating Dominika Cibulkova in her opening round. The defending champion extended her St. Petersburg winning streak to seven matches with her straight-set win over Katerina Siniakova on Friday to advance to the semifinal, her first since Birmingham last summer. This is the first time she's posted back-to-back wins since that same week in Birmingham. 

"I kept on being strong and working and saying it will pay off," Mladenovic told WTA Insider after her opening win. "I'm back and I'm playing good. It's easy to talk and people don't see the work behind the scenes, and then you have to prove it with the results and it wasn't coming. But the negativity and the comments didn't affect me. The only thing that affects me is the work I do and my family and friends. 

"Since the beginning of the year, I know my tennis is great. It didn't pay off in Australia unfortunately, in singles, but in doubles I played some great matches. I had a great partner but if I didn't do my job we wouldn't have won the title. So that's already one big achievement I've had this season."

"I think the depth of women's tennis is amazing. We can see every single week breakthroughs and experienced players as well. Anything can happen any week. If I'm playing the way I played today I firmly believe I can repeat what I did the first half of last season. I will keep working the same way."

Petra Kvitova is the Queen of the Indoor Kids.

Indoor Petra is back in full-force in St. Petersburg. The winningest active player on indoor hard courts, Kvitova has been in devastating form in Russia, tallying wins over Elena Vesnina, Irina Camelia Begu, and Jelena Ostapenko to make her first semifinal of the season. Kvitova's win over Ostapenko was her 62nd career win on indoor hardcourts.

Most Wins at Indoor Hardcourt Events

1. Petra Kvitova: 62-27
2. Maria Sharapova: 53-16 
3. Patty Schnyder: 50-39
4. Dominika Cibulkova: 49-27
5. Caroline Wozniacki: 46-14 

Goerges, the New Queen of Aces?

Entering the week, Julia Goerges led the WTA in aces served in 2018 (61 aces in 7 matches), ahead of Elina Svitolina (60 aces in 10 matches), Caroline Wozniacki (58 aces in 12 matches) and Karolina Pliskova (53 aces in 8 matches).

Pliskova has led the WTA in aces served for three consecutive years. Last year, Pliskova (452) and Goerges (412) were the only players to hit 400+ aces.

Through three matches in St. Petersburg, Goerges has hit 25 aces, bringing her season totals to 86 aces in 10 matches. Goerges hit 10 aces and 0 double faults in her second-round win over Roberta Vinci. Last year, only three players recorded a match with 10 or more aces and 0 double faults.