WTA Moscow: Belinda Bencic tops Kristina Mladenovic to achieve her goal


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WTA Moscow: Belinda Bencic tops Kristina Mladenovic to achieve her goal

In one of the most important matches of her career, Belinda Bencic defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4 to advance into the tenth WTA final and secure spot at the WTA Finals for the first time. The Swiss entered the tournament in a list minute with a wild card after an early loss in Linz, claiming enough points to pass Kiki Bertens and Serena Williams and grab that eighth spot that leads to Shenzhen.

It was the first win for Belinda over Kristina since 2015, earning it after a solid display on serve and only two breaks she suffered. On the other hand, the French player won eight out of 29 points behind the second serve and faced 14 break chances, repelling ten of those but finishing on the losing side with those four breaks that Bencic seized.

With no room for errors, Belinda grabbed the first three games to settle into a nice rhythm before Kristina responded in the same manner, leveling the score at 3-3 and wasting break point in games seven and nine that could have kept her in contention maybe until the tie break.

Bencic did well to defend the serve in those games, scoring a break in game eight to close the set 6-3. They traded early breaks in set number two and Belinda had the edge in the remaining games, serving well and mounting the pressure on the rival who in the end finally cracked to send her into the final.

Mladenovic saved three break chances in games five and seven each before Bencic rattled off 12 of the last 13 points to seal the deal and achieve a massive goal in the very last moment. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stands between Bencic and the title, with the Russian advancing into the 20th WTA final thanks to a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 win over Karolina Muchova in two hours and 34 minutes.

There were 31 break points up for grabs and the Russian limited the damage in her games after fending off ten out of 13, securing six breaks from 18 opportunities to move over the top and stay on the title course. The first set lasted for more than 70 minutes and the Russian saved all seven break points in the last three service games, defending the break she earned in the first game to take it 6-4.

The second set offered six breaks in the first ten games three on each side to stay on the level terms until the tie break where Karolina saved a match point at 5-6, winning the last three points to steal the breaker and set the decider.

There, Pavlyuchenkova started all over and lost one point in four service games, challenging the rival to repeat that and breaking her in games two and six to move over the top and get the opportunity to fight for the trophy.