No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina gave local fans at the Kremlin Cup plenty to cheer about after her straight-sets victory over Belinda Bencic.
WTA Staff

MOSCOW, Russia - No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina gave fans at the Kremlin Cup a lot to cheer about after her straight-sets victory over Belinda Bencic.

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Russian players have always thrived at the year's last Premier-level event in Moscow, with at least one Russian reaching the semifinals or better at nine of the last 10 editions of the tournament. Kasatkina looked set to add her name to that list as she needed just 61 minutes to dispatch Bencic 6-4, 6-1.

"It was a great win, especially in front of the home fans here," Kasatkina said after the match. "Belinda is a tough opponent, a former Top 10 player, so it's nice to get the victory and start the week here in Moscow playing well.

"I just want to keep putting in performances like this and finish the season strongly."

Bencic got off to a roaring start early in the match, dragging Kasatkina from alley to alley and ripping a 150 kph overhead winner to bring up the first break for a 4-2 lead in the opening set. But Kasatkina clawed her way back as the unforced errors began to fly from Bencic's raquet, with a wild forehand drifting wide to hand the break back to the Russian and level the match.

Kasatkina reeled off seven straight games to take the opening set and go up a break in the second. A double fault from Bencic - her fifth of the match - gave Kasatkina the final break and the Russian player closed out the match in straight sets.

No.9 seed Timea Babos will join Kasatkina in the second round after she took out 2014 finalist Irina-Camelia Begu in a two-and-a-half hour battle to advance 6-2, 6-7(2), 7-5.

"I started off really well but let my game slip - I have a few less rackets in my bag as a result as I was frustrated!" Babos said after the victory.

"But I'm glad I could find my rhythm and close out the win. I have played a few juniors events in Moscow so winning today means I'm unbeaten in Russia.

"I just want to keep my form good, which is not easy at this end of the season but I will focus and finish well."

Also in action today, Kremlin Cup qualifying wrapped up with Lesia Tsurenko, Katerina Siniakova, Anna Blinkova and Nicole Gibbs earning main draw berths.

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