FILE PHOTO: Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 31, 2019. Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during her third round match against Croatia’s Donna Vekic REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
(Reuters) – Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic powered past Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4 on Saturday to reach the Kremlin Cup final in Moscow and secure the eighth and final spot in the season-ending WTA Finals starting later this month.
The 22-year-old will make her debut in the Oct. 27-Nov. 3 tournament in Shenzhen and joins Ash Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and defending champion Elina Svitolina.
“It’s a dream to be competing at the WTA Finals and to be one of the top eight,” Bencic said in a courtside interview.
“It makes it even more special that I booked my ticket at the last possible minute. This match had so much pressure and I was so nervous. Now I’m over the moon to win today and achieve this dream.”
Before that, Bencic will look to seal her second title of the year after her success in Dubai and takes on 2014 Kremlin Cup champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.
The Russian earlier outlasted Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-7(6) 6-1 in the other semi-final.
“It’s amazing to be back in the final for the third time,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “Every year I play here, I look forward to have a trophy… I’m one step closer now, and that’s special.”
Among the men, Adrian Mannarino eased past Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-4 to surge into the final and remain on course to claim his second ATP Tour trophy after winning the Libema Open in June.
He will face local favorite Andrey Rublev, who beat former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 7-5 6-4.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar