Bencic lays down Open marker with dominant Adelaide win

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic laid down a marker for next week's Australian Open with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 win over Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Adelaide International on Saturday.

Bencic, who will move back into the top 10 after this tournament, overwhelmed the higher-ranked Russian in 67 minutes of almost flawless tennis.

She broke Kasatkina's first service game and then raced through the opening set as the Russian offered almost no resistance.

Kasatkina, the world number eight, had no answers to the power and depth of Bencic's groundstrokes and didn't get on the scoreboard until the ninth game of the match.

And although she was able to offer more of a challenge in the second set, Kasatkina could do nothing to stop Bencic claiming her sixth title on the WTA tour.

Bencic said her success this week would help her heading into the Australian Open.

"It's my best result before the Australian Open and I've had the most matches going into it," she said.

"It helps me to be confident and to know and believe in myself.

"This is great, and I won this tournament, but in Melbourne it starts again."

Bencic will certainly be one of the players to watch in Melbourne.

The 25-year-old, who has been ranked as high as number four in the world, won the singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, before leading Switzerland to their first Billie Jean King Cup triumph in 2022.

Following the shock retirement of 2022 Australian Open champion Ashleigh Barty last March, the 2023 women's field is wide open.

Bencic played Poland's Iga Swiatek in the United Cup to open the season and pushed the world number one in a high-quality match.

She continued her early season form when she defeated world number four Caroline Garcia in the Adelaide quarter-finals and former number one Garbine Muguruza in the first round.

"I thought I played some great matches from the start of the tournament and also against different kinds of opponents," she said.

"So I could really test myself out there in every way and go confidently into the Australian Open."

Bencic faces Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova in the first round on Tuesday.

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