Tennis: Russian teen wins Kremlin Cup opener

Russia's Daria Kasatkina plays against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova during the China Open Women's Singles Second Round.
Russia's Daria Kasatkina plays against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova during the China Open Women's Singles Second Round. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's Daria Kasatkina on Monday cruised into the second round of the Kremlin Cup, a joint WTA and ATP event, with a straight-sets win over fellow teenager Belinda Bencic.

The 19-year-old, ranked 24th in the world and seeded eighth in Moscow, won 6-4, 6-1 to level her head-to-head record with her Swiss rival at 1-1.

Benchic broke early in the opening set but the local favourite, who is seeking her maiden title, broke back twice for a one-set lead in 38 minutes.

In the second Kasatkina underlined her domination on the hard court of Moscow's Olympic indoor arena producing two more breaks to close out the match in just one hour.

"It was a very tough match and I'm really happy to win it," Kasatkina said. "At the very beginning I played too nervously. "But after I was trailing I made some changes and began to play more aggressive tennis. Luckily it paid off."

Earlier, Hungary's ninth seed Timea Babos also advanced into the second round with a 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5 win over Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in a replay of this year's Florianopolis WTA final.

Babos, ranked 26th, broke twice to take the opening set, while Begu won the second in a tiebreak. The opponents traded breaks throughout the deciding set but Babos, 23, was the more precise of the two and claimed the set and the match in two hours 27 minutes to record her first win over Begu in their third meeting.

"Today I tried to stay calm, to manage my nerves, to do what I could to win every single point and it worked well," Babos told AFP. "Begu knows my weaknesses well, while I know her weak spots. But at the end of tight matches like this tactics don't really matter. It's all about nerves. And today I was a bit better in this part of the game."

In the ATP section, Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci cruised comfortably into the second round seeing off Turkish wild card Cem Ilkel 7-5, 6-1, while Czech Lukas Rosol ousted Austria's Gerald Melzer 7-5, 6-2.