MOSCOW, Russia - No.3 seed Elena Vesnina, the highest-seeded Russian of nine who began the week in the main draw, hopes to take advantage of her pole position at the VTB Kremlin Cup.
The Russian veteran looks to break a dubious skid in her home country's capital this week: she has lost four straight matches at the event dating back to 2013, having had her best career showing of a semifinal in 2011.
She enters the Premier-level event in Moscow on the back of a surprising first round defeat to Luksika Kumkhum in Hong Kong, after reaching the third round at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and the China Open in Beijing.
Reflecting on a season in which she won her biggest career singles title in March with a stunning run at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Vesnina spoke candidly about dealing with pressure over the course of the year.
"I didn’t lose my motivation," the World No.20 said on Monday. "It was a tough season, a long one, and you don’t always go on court being in your best form. In women’s tennis, you lose your confidence so fast.
"You think you’ve just won a [Premier Mandatory] or a Grand Slam, but you always have this...pressure, and it is not so easy."
The Russian No.3 in the rankings behind Svetlana Kuznetsova, who withdrew due to injury this week, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Vesnina hopes to finish her regular season on a high.
She's set to compete in doubles at the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global alongside compatriot Ekaterina Makarova, and is also in qualifying position for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in singles.
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"For me Sochi stays the best city on Earth, but I have a base in Moscow and I spend a lot of time here," she reflected. "It is easier to travel to tournaments from Moscow, and there are a lot of our girls practicing here."
The recipient of a first-round bye, Vesnina will face the winner of Tuesday's match between rising compatriot Natalia Vikhlyantseva and qualifier Kaia Kanepi.