World no. 10 Belinda Bencic had to take a last-minute qualifying wild card for the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow after an early exit in Linz, entering the main draw and kicking off a hard task in the one last push to gain the place at the WTA Finals.
On Saturday, Belinda defeated Kristina Mladenovic to secure the title match berth and earned enough points to pass Kiki Bertens and Serena Williams, punching the Shenzhen ticket and preparing for the first WTA Finals event in a career.
To make the week even better, Belinda claimed the fourth WTA title on Sunday, toppling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in an hour and 43 minutes to complete a perfect Moscow trip and finish the regular season on a high note.
It was the fourth triumph for the Swiss over the Russian in five encounters, overcoming a slow first set and playing better and better as the match progressed to leave the rival far behind. After that solid start, Pavlyuchenkova lost the ground completely, taking only ten points on the return in sets two and three and failing to win the first WTA title for Russia of the season, something that hasn't happened since 2001!
Anastasia grabbed a break in the first game of the encounter and sealed the set with another one at 5-3 after a double fault from Belinda. The Swiss had to raise her level and that is exactly what happened from set number two, delivering an early break and settling into an excellent rhythm behind the initial shot to control the scoreboard.
A forehand winner secured a break at love for Belinda in game five and the set was in her hands after another one at 5-1, gathering the momentum ahead of the decider where she stood as the only player on the court. Rattling off nine straight games, Bencic raced into a 5-0 advantage in the final set, earning breaks in games two and four and sealing the deal with a service winner in game seven that carried her towards the title and well-deserved place in Shenzhen.