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Australian Open 2019: Bencic edges Siniakova in three sets

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
News
146   //    14 Jan 2019, 14:10 IST

Belinda Bencic in play at the Australian Open
Belinda Bencic in play at the Australian Open

Belinda Bencic had to earn a first-round win at the Australian Open Monday afternoon. The Swiss player went the distance against Katerina Siniakova who gave quite a challenge but faltered late in a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 score on Court 13 at Melbourne Park. The relentless effort that Bencic put together on the court had her back on the right side of glory down under to win a great challenge.

The match marked only their first WTA meeting and second overall in six years. Bencic handled the Czech back when she was 20 but the momentum has been good for Siniakova who stands as world number 34. She didn’t make much happen in Sydney or Brisbane making it very important for her to do so on the big stage. Bencic knew that she had what it took to surpass her best finish of round four back in 2016. Her three wins at Hobart and her push from last year at Luxembourg could be the determining factor of how well she does at the year’s opening grand slam. 

She held serve to start the set right allowing Siniakova just points before setting the pace. After the Czech made her mark, Bencic made sure to stay out front for as long as possible. They traded off wins while still remaining on serve through six until Siniakova made her move. The 22-year old broke the Swiss star in the seventh setting a new pace that would challenge Bencic. She responded with a break back securing two points before consolidating it with a hold of serve in the ninth.

Bencic vied to get the set done and dusted on Siniakova’s service game but the world number 34 rallied to deuce. The 21-year-old made good on securing the AD point that gave her a solid win to stand ahead in the match after 33 minutes. Bencic was firm on offense scoring 70 percent from the second serve while the Czech’s struggled to keep up.

She made it a point to overcome the deficit standing in front of her and force Bencic into an uncomfortable position. After the Swiss star nearly had a serve to love, Siniakova answered in the second with the exact definition of such. She got ahead in the third with the hope of earning a break quickly. Bencic denied her that after forcing deuce which she secured the game on her first AD point.

It was the last win she saw and the Czech took over following a strong service game in the fourth. She struggled to get into contention for the break but set up the deuce to still try and achieve it. Though it took five breaks to do it, the win gave her the leverage needed. She coasted through the next three games which included a break to love to force a third set into action after 37 minutes.

With both on an even keel, the two would do anything to gain a footing over the other and find their place in the second round. The Swiss star got on the right foot and tried to add more to her short lead. Siniakova wouldn’t let her do that but lost control of dictating her serve when Bencic forced deuce.

Although she needed three break points, the 21-year-old made it 2-0 before adding another to widen the gap. Siniakova got on the board but the damage had been done by the world number 49 who was intent on making it through the first day. She soon had a 4-1 stance that kept the Czech at bay.

They held serve through the next three games where Bencic sat a game away from clinching a spot in the second round. She got behind on serve in the ninth but rallied back with a great angled winner. Siniakova committed an error that handed Bencic match point where she saw the ball go long ending her day in 1 hour and 52 minutes. 167 points were tallied in the match with Bencic finishing with slightly less than Siniakova.

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Despite the differences in the end, Bencic advanced to Wednesday’s bout against Yulia Putintseva who knocked out 32nd seeded Barbora Strycova. 

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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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