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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, February 14, 2016

Roberta Vinci

Roberta Vinci swept top-seeded Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 6-3, to collect her 10th career title in St. Petersburg.

Photo credit: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy

Power play has become an essential element in the modern game. Roberta Vinci proved variety and an all-court attack remain a successful formual today.

Mixing her spins masterfully, Vinci befuddled top-seeded Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 6-3, to collect her 10th career title—and biggest singles crown of her career—in St. Petersburg. The victory will vault Vinci to No. 12 when the new WTA rankings are released tomorrow.

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Vinci will celebrate her 33rd birthday on Thursday. The five-time Grand Slam doubles champion gave Bencic a lesson in court craft and ball-control skills today. In a clash of the top two seeds, Vinci was simply too good for the 18-year-old Swiss.

In her semifinal win over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, Vinci overcome a 0-3 deficit by mixing her spins and applying her net game. She won 19 of 22 trips to net in the semifinals and wasted no time pressing the forward attack in the final.

The US Open finalist saved a pair of break points in the opening game, broke in the second game and burst out to a 3-0 lead. An animated Bencic called her father and coach, Ivan, out on court, who helped settle his daughter down.

Hitting with more depth, the top-seeded responded scoring successive breaks for 3-4 then fired a forehand winner down the line to level.

Predictable serving patterns cost Bencic the break and the set in the 10th game. The Swiss teenager was consistently hitting her slice serve wide on the deuce side and Vinci was waiting. A forehand winner down the line gave the 32-year-old Italian set point.

Angling off a sharp backhand volley—her 19th winner—Vinci broke for the third time to collect the 43-minute opener.

Vinci's slithering slice backhand set up flatter forehand strikes down the line and timely sneak attacks to net where she volleyed beautifully. It was an unsettling combination for the teenager.

Staring down break point in the fourth game of the second set, Bencic opened the court with the wide serve. Setting up for her favorite shot, the short backhand, was victimized by Vinci's anticipation and court sense. Vinci paused as if holding her ground then sprinted right, cut off the ball and snapped a forehand pass crosscourt breaking for 3-1.

Vinci held at 15 to extend the lead to 5-2. By that point, she'd won 11 of 12 points played on her first serve in the second set.

Nerves struck Vinci at 30-all in the eighth game when she netted a routine smash that would have given her championship point. Bencic exploited the gift holding for 3-5.

Shaking it off, the veteran earned double championship point then swung an ace out wide to end a near flawless one hour, 19-minute triumph in style.

Bencic will make her Top 10 debut when the new WTA rankings are released tomorrow. The 16th-ranked Vinci may well make a run at the Top 10 herself.


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