BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - No.1 seed Belinda Bencic was crowned champion at the Bratislava Open exhibition event yesterday after defeating recent teammate and No.3 seed Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2, 6-3 in the final.
The result capped a stellar week for the Swiss World No.8, who did not drop a set during her title run. Indeed, she had conceded just three games prior to the final, routing two unseeded players, Yvonna Zuffova and Bianca Behulova, by identical 6-0, 6-1 scorelines in the first two rounds before dominating No.4 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.
Slovak 22-year-old Kuzmova, meanwhile, had a tougher path through her half of the 16-player draw, beating 17-year-old junior World No.51 Romana Cisovska 6-2, 6-2 in the first round before needing to overcome younger sister Katarina Kuzmova 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. In the last four, the three-time WTA semifinalist delivered a hard-fought upset of No.2 seed Anna Blinkova, coming through 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-0 against the Russian World No.61.
"It's beautiful to lift every trophy," Bencic told the tournament website afterwards. "I'm very glad I was able to play like this. They were quality matches. I'd never played against Viki before. I was well-prepared for this match. She plays fast, serves well - it's really about the first two balls in an exchange. I have to survive those, and then we have to get into a rally."
Bencic also joined forces with 17-year-old Slovak Anika Jaskova to lift the doubles trophy, defeating the Kuzmova sisters 6-2, 6-1 in the final.
During the WTA Tour pause, Bencic has shown strong form in unofficial competition in Slovakia, where the 23-year-old habitually trains. Though she had never faced Kuzmova before this week, Bencic was familiar with the World No.82 as a teammate: earlier this month, the pair had joined forces on the TK Slovan Bratislava team to win the Slovak Extraliga title.