Top seed Belinda Bencic takes on former World No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Belinda Bencic ?? vs Svetlana Kuznetsova ?? Match Info
Date: Wednesday February 12
Tournament: WTA St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, R2
Court: Sibur Arena
Time: 6.30pm local time (3.30pm GMT)
Belinda Bencic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova Head-to-Head
Bencic leads 2-1
2019 | Madrid R32 | Bencic 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3
2016 | Wuhan R64 | Kuznetsova 6-3 3-4 RET
2014 | Tokyo R32 | Bencic 6-3 6-0
Belinda Bencic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova Match Preview
A marquee showdown awaits in the second round of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Wednesday night as top seed Belinda Bencic faces two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Runner-up in St. Petersburg in 2016, Bencic will be hoping to go one step further in 2020 as she looks to try and replicate the form she produced at this stage of the season last year.
Bencic laid the foundation for her brilliant 2019 in February and March when she put together a 12-match winning streak, starting with a pair of Fed Cup wins that led to an incredible title run in Dubai, where she four top 10 players on the bounce, including Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova. The Swiss was eventually stopped in the semi-finals of Indian Wells by Angelique Kerber, but not before taking out the likes of Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova.
The 22-year-old went on to reach the semi-finals of Madrid, the final of Mallorca, win the title in Moscow and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final at the U.S. Open – results that catapulted her into the WTA Finals Shenzhen for the first time, reaching the semi-finals with wins over Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens before going down to Svitolina.
Bencic will be hoping for similar success in 2020, especially at this stage of the season where she’s defending a lot of ranking points in Dubai and Indian Wells. It hasn’t been a great start for Bencic – she lost in the first round of Shenzhen, the quarter-finals of Adelaide and was crushed 6-0 6-1 by Anett Kontaveit in the third round of the Australian Open, but she did help Switzerland beat Canada in the Fed Cup qualifiers on the weekend, beating Gabriela Dabrowski (but also losing to 17-year-old Leyla Fernandez). Can the Swiss kick-start her season in St. Petersburg this week?
She has a very tough opening opponent in former No. 2 Kuznetsova. The 34-year-old veteran is relishing the chance to play in her hometown of St. Petersburg this week and it showed in her impressive opening round dispatch of Jennifer Brady, with Kuznetsova prevailing by a 6-3 6-1 scoreline. Kuznetsova made the 2017 St. Petersburg quarter-finals but has been forced to miss the last two editions of the tournament through injury. The Russian knows Bencic will be tough to overcome, but she also realises she has nothing to lose against the top seed.
“[Bencic] plays very good indoors, she’s an extremely tough opponent,” said Kuznetsova. “She’s the favourite to win, so I’ll just try to do my best and enjoy.”
Naturally, Kuznetsova has dipped down the rankings during the twilight of her career, with a wrist injury contributing to her finishing outside the top 100 for the first time since 2001 in 2018. However, Kuznetsova was able to break back into the top 50 last season, thanks almost solely to a superb run in Cincinnati, where she beat the likes of Dayana Yastremska, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty before going down to Madison Keys. Up to No. 49 in the world, Kuznetsova lost in the first round of Hobart and second round of the Australian Open before arriving in St. Petersburg.
Belinda Bencic vs Svetlana Kuznetsova Prediction
These two haven’t played all that often, but Kuznetsova did manage to stretch Bencic to three sets last year in Madrid when the Swiss was playing extremely well and she was still in the early stages of her comeback from a wrist injury. Bencic hasn’t been anywhere near her best to start 2020, while Kuznetsova scored an eye-catching opening round win over Brady. With the home crowd support, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the St. Petersburg native claimed her first top 10 win of the season on Wednesday.