MOSCOW — Daria Kasatkina of Russia powered into the second round of the Kremlin Cup on Monday, beating Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-1.
The eighth-seeded Kasatkina was 4-2 down in the first set but won 10 of the next 11 games. She next plays either Russian Ekaterina Makarova or American qualifier Nicole Gibbs.
“At the start of the match, I was pretty nervous and I think that was obvious,” Kasatkina said. “I started to fall behind, and knew that I needed to change something, started playing more aggressively, covering more of the court.”
Nineteen-year-olds Kasatkina and Bencic are friends from junior tournaments, but their careers have taken opposite paths this year. Kasatkina, ranked a career-high 24th, can cap her breakout season with a strong showing in Moscow, while Bencic hit a high of seventh in February before injuries wrecked her season, leaving her currently down in 43rd.
“It was really hard to play today, because as much as we’ve both changed, so much has stayed the same,” Kasatkina said. “We know what to expect from each other.”
Earlier, ninth-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary won her first-round match against 2014 Kremlin Cup finalist Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5.
In the men’s draw, Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci beat Turkey’s Cem Ilkel 7-5, 6-1, while Czech Lukas Rosol beat Austria’s Gerald Melzer 7-5, 6-2.