‘Someone needed to win’: Kalinskaya coldly powers past ‘friend’ Potapova in battle of hot Russian rising stars
Kalinskaya shocked 2017 champion Sloane Stephens at the US Open in straight sets after coming through qualifying at the season-ending Grand Slam in August.
The 20-year-old kept up the form that has seen her peak at a career-best ranking of no.102 in Moscow in a battle between two of Russia's hot rising stars, by thrashing Potapova in a first set whitewash in which she didn't drop a game.
Plucky Potapova, however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight and the 18-year-old clawed back the second set 6-3 to level play on center court.
The decider was tight early on until Kalinskaya broke her opponent to level the set at 3-3. A stubborn Potapova looked as though she might return the favor but she squandered two break points as Kalinskaya put further daylight between the two.
Kalinskaya then broke Potapova once more to serve for the match but, although she couldn’t take the chance, she prevailed in the next game.
At the end of an entertaining rally with Kalinskaya, an overstretched Potapova hit a backhand straight into the net, prompting her to immediately strike the court surface as she handed the set and match to Kalinskaya.
After the match, Kalinskaya was straightforward in her assessment of the challenges of playing against her compatriot and friend in her post-match interview on court.
"Yes it was difficult to play in this game because we are also good friends, but someone needed to win today," the Moscow native said.
Kasatkina booked her place in the round of 16 where she will face the winner of Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrovna and Slovakian Jana Čepelová.
The Kremlin Cup 2019 will serve as a homecoming for Muscovite and world no. 4 Daniil Medvedev, who on Sunday won the Shanghai Masters against last year's ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, his third title win in six straight tour finals.
The ATP 250 tournament, held at the city's Krylatskoye Ice Palace, will welcome perhaps the hottest player in the men's game this week, as he looks to continue his assault on the world top three.Also on rt.com Medvedev set for Moscow homecoming - Kremlin Cup 2019 preview