Roberta Vinci redeemed herself for a loss at the U.S. Open and became St. Petersburg’s first tennis champion. The 32-year-old Italian dominated against the strong youth of Belinda Bencic winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 to win the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy inaugural tournament. It was her first singles title since 2013 and an important one that made it a tenth title for her career.
This was the first time both had met each other in a match let alone a final where either would become St. Petersburg’s first champion. The 18-year-old Swiss star has been on the court much longer than last year’s U.S Open finalist who last played at the Australian Open but didn’t get beyond the third round. The 32 year old is 7-3 in WTA matches so far and fought hard in the tournament to get this far.
Her straight sets victory over Ana Ivanovic set her for a third straight fight against strong opponents. The same could be said for Bencic as she dealt with adversity from Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who took the match to three sets before the teen saw the win. She earned a big milestone after her semifinal match against Daria Kasatkina securing a spot in the Top Ten rankings whether she won or lost the final. She would do whatever possible to make sure that both goals would be reached and go on into the season as a huge threat.
She got a big lead in Game One on the returns from Vinci but the Italian got out of trouble fast to overtake the Swiss teen and hold her service in the end. She attacked well in the second game stealing the advantage on deuce before taking a 2-0 lead in the set. She continued to look really fast on the slow court landing four winners in a row in the third game continuing to blank Bencic.
After a tough conversation with her father and coach, Bencic found a way to get her service together and create a pattern of attack that produced a victory in the fourth. She had to keep the fight on in the fifth as Vinci climbed back to force deuce but lost out at the critical moment. The Italian made up for it with a win on the break but still had trouble holding off Bencic. The Swiss star ended the breaks of serve holding her own against Vinci despite having to beat her on even terms. She leveled up at four all with a strong serve winning the game by a sizable margin.
With things warmed up on her end, Bencic showed solid responses on the return that attacked the second seed. Vinci responded well in the ninth to take the key lead in the set and play on the return to play for the big step in the match. With a big fight on her hands, the Italian stayed cool and acted well against the Swiss serve to seal the win and take the first set in 43 minutes. While her serve percentage was near 50 percent, Vinci still had things on lock with 19 winners across court and kept the unforced errors down to seven
Vinci continued to produce winners into the second set that gave her a second straight win over the Swiss teen. Bencic put a stop to the Italian’s success regaining control of her serve to level up after two games. The Italian took a commanding 3-1 lead with dominating swings on the ball that caused trouble for Bencic. Unable to answer on the big shots, the teen tried to do anything to change up the pace. She didn’t have a chance in the fifth as Vinci moved closer to the title with a 4-1 hold.
An important hold of serve for Bencic came in the fifth as she shutout Vinci to split the margin halfway and play on to stay alive. The Italians went back to playing ruthless tennis landing winning shots that included a slam off the top of the net only to drop into Bencic’s court. In the end she held the teen to a point before taking a fifth game winner and play for the match and the title.
Bencic held while on the ropes against Vinci as her ferocity won her points over the veteran tennis star who got nervous on some of the rallies. Vinci got back on serve where she fired solid winners and won the championship on a winner in the front corner to win her tenth career title in 79 minutes.
Aside from the numerous winners she fired at Bencic, the returning side of her game was ultimately the workhorse of her victory. In the second set alone, the Italian won points on 20 of 27 shots on serve and 15 of 16 while serving the ball up. With so much going well with her skills, Vinci could be a threat onwards as the season continues. Both will head into the Dubai tournament Monday where either one could make a stab at winning there as well.