And then there were two. Homegrown talents have performed admirably at the WTA St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, with all four semifinalists representing Russia. Now Margarita Gasparyan and Daria Kasatkina are set to battle it out in the final. Both have played quality tennis this week and are deserving of their place in the final, but who will out on top?
WTA St Petersburg Ladies Trophy Final Prediction
Margarita Gasparyan vs Daria Kasatkina
Head-to-head: first meeting
Gasparyan has been the story of the tournament so far. Unseeded and out of form until she put together a decent run in Lyon, she has been on the outside of the top 100 looking in for a while now. However, her run to the final at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy has changed that.
She is guaranteed to be ranked 86th in the world next week, and could find herself as high as world #77 if she wins on Sunday. She has defended her serve well and played fearless, aggressive tennis in the moments when she needed to most. Coming in to the week, few would have had Gasparyan picked as a finalist, however, she has beaten Kristina Mladenovic, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Katerina Siniakova and Vera Zvonareva to reach the title match.
That is an impressive list of victories. Adding an in-form Kasatkina to that list would be the cherry on top for Gasparyan. If she can continue to play with confidence and aggression she has every chance of doing just that. However, Kasatkina certainly won’t go quietly into the night.
The former world #10 did well to shake off a poor first set against Svetlana Kuznetsova in her semifinal. After dropping that set 6-1, Kasatkina lost just two more games. She has also beaten in-form players in Veronika Kudermetova and Clara Tauson this week, as well as the dangerous Aliaksandra Sasnovich. In earning three of those wins, she had to come from a set down, showing a belief in her game that has been missing for some time now.
Kasatkina is one of the more entertaining players to watch on the women’s tour when she is at her best. She has great variety and her jumping backhand is a sight to behold. Crucially, Kasatkina’s serve has held up even under stern examination this week. That will need to remain the case against Gasparyan as anything below par will surely be met with the full fury of that backhand.
However, Kasatkina should have the variety and tennis IQ to think her way through most matches. What has been missing for her in recent months is the game to match that problem-solving ability. That hasn’t been the case in 2021. If she continues playing at this level, she will surely ask Gasparyan some very uncomfortable questions in the final.
Gasparyan is playing well enough to fancy her chances here. However, this is by far the biggest match of her career. Whether those nerves get to her will be a telling factor in how close this match is. That should give Kasatkina the edge here. Her variety, big match experience and ability to craft points should be enough to see her through a tight match.
Prediction: Kasatkina in 3