Belinda Bencic seeks her first win of 2020 when she takes on Russian qualifier, Daria Kasatkina in the first round of the Adelaide International on Monday.
Bencic vs Kasatkina is live from Adelaide on Monday, 13 January from 2:00pm local time/ 2:00pm GMT
Bencic lost her opening match of the season, beaten another Russian, Anna Blinkova 3-6 6-3 6-3 in Shenzhen last week- can she get off the mark when she faces Kasatkina in Adelaide?
After a couple of injury-hit seasons, Bencic finally caught a break in 2019, and she made the most of her good health, putting together a career best season.
The Swiss first broke into the top-ten in 2016 as an 18-year-old prodigy, but she was dragged down the rankings by injuries, falling as low as 318th in September 2017. However, Bencic returned to the top 10 last season, following a terrific campaign that included titles in Dubai and Moscow and a maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open.
The 22-year-old also reached the final in Mallorca, and was a semi-finalist in Hobart, Indian Wells, Madrid, and the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen. Bencic’s season ended on an injury note, when she retired in the final set of her Shenzhen semi-final against Elina Svitolina.
The Swiss finished with an impressive 47-21 record- she will go in search of her first win in 2020 when she faces Kasatkina on Monday.
Kasatkina already has a WTA win this season, against Carla Suarez Navarro in Auckland last week, but her tournament was ended by a 6-2 6-4 second-round defeat to Amanda Anisimova.
She had to get through the qualifying rounds to reach the Adelaide main draw, beating Amarni Banks and Gabriela Dabrowski to set up Monday’s first round meeting with Bencic.
It was not too long ago that Kasatkina was ranked in the top-ten, in 2018, when she reached Grand Slam quarter finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, made finals in Dubai and Indian Wells, and won a title in Moscow. However, the young Russian experienced a sharp dip in form in 2019, making just the two quarter finals in St. Petersburg and Beijing.
Kasatkina staggered to a 12-21 record last season, compared to 42-25 from the previous campaign, and slipped to a year-end ranking of 70th, having started the year at No. 10 in the world.
The positive news for the Russian is that she doesn’t have too many ranking points to defend this year, and she can climb up the rankings very quickly if she regains some of her 2018 form and puts a run together.
Kasatkina has won her last two matches against Bencic, and holds a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head, but their last meeting was back in 2017. A lot has changed since then. Kasatkina is one of the most creative players on the tour, and she can make things very awkward for Bencic if she plays as well as she can, but that has not happened for some time now.
Bencic is a steady performer from the back of the court, taking the ball early and always keeping her opponent under pressure. I think the Swiss will pick up her first win of the new season on Monday.