BNP Paribas Open: Bencic rallies to eliminate Van Utyvanck in straight sets

Belinda Bencic wins her seventh straight match to move on at the BNP Paribas Open
Belinda Bencic wins her seventh straight match to move on at the BNP Paribas Open

Belinda Bencic was on fire to advance her into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open Saturday night. The 21-year-old who recently won Dubai was still hot and handled her straight sets win over Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-1 on Stadium Five at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Bencic continued a seven-match winning streak with the win that has her standing as a dangerous player.

Both players met for the fourth time and first on the hard courts of Indian Wells. The Swiss superstar rose back into the top 25 after her tremendous fight that led to a title in Dubai. The numerous points won earned her a spot that came with a first-round pass to face-off against Van Uytvanck. The Belgian took down Alison Riske in straight sets Thursday to gain a chance to level the series with Bencic. With more time playing on grass with one another, both would test their adversary’s skills on the fast courts in the desert and vie for control.

Bencic fired away terrific returns at Van Uytvanck to achieve three break points which was clinched by a line drive winner. She hit with a little too much effort causing two double faults that handed the Belgian her own break to love chance. Bencic managed to save two and won another to force deuce with a second serve forced winner. A third double fault caused her the most trouble giving Van Uytvanck the win to keep the breaks going.

She consolidated the break with a hold that inspired Bencic to do the same after taking a coaching call during the changeover. She held Van Uytvanck to a point to easily attain the hold in the fourth. Frustrations began to rattle the Swiss star who got sloppy on the returns losing the chance for the lead. Before serving the sixth, she voiced her feelings to the umpire which didn’t help her game. Van Uytvanck took easy points with Bencic doing very little movement to defend the serve.

She went to deuce with the Belgian who showed a better footing that clearly challenged the Swiss star. During the second break, Bencic caught a chance that gave her the AD point before winning to keep the set even. A key move for the break rewarded Bencic after she fought to deuce before being at the right spot during a lob rally to lay down the winner that gave her the 4-3 stance.

Consolidating the break was still no easy task as the second serve was troubling her to the point of adding a fourth double fault. Bencic recorded her first point from the second but it was the 24-year-old who took the game with better handling. The Swiss star didn’t want to trail the Belgian and made sure that she secured a break back that gave her a shot at serving for the set. Focus and an error from Van Uytvanck gave Bencic three set points with the victory coming on a wide return from the 24-year-old to end the first in 42 minutes.

In a statement, Van Uytvanck came out blasting Bencic for a service to love to begin the second stanza. She battled the 21-year old who had a chance for a hold but was forced to deuce by the Belgian. She handled the situation well gaining two chances before holding in the second.

A real fight came in the third with Van Uytvanck ahead but losing ground to head to deuce. Bencic gained the only chance as her game was giving the 24-year-old a beating for the break. The 23rd seed consolidated the break for a 3-1 lead as her intensity was at the right level to be the stronger player on the court

She was again behind Van Uytvanck in the fifth but an easy climb back to deuce opened the door to secure the AD point, pressure the Belgian and take another victory away. Bencic was quickly a game away after another tremendous push threw Van Uytvanck into the wringer only to leave her with little hope of survival.

She served to stay alive in the match in the seventh but the service struggled to put together strong hits to the Swiss. A good forehand made it 30-0 for the 24-year-old but Bencic’s court positioning came in the clutch to climb out from the hole.

A crosscourt attack handed the 21-year-old match point which came on a long ball from the Belgian that safely gave Bencic a step into the third round after 1 hour and 13 minutes. Despite having seven double faults Bencic finished with a 69 per cent serve percentage and scored more than 80 per cent of shots from the first serve.

With such ferocious skills being used to come out the undisputed winner, the 23rd seed would find out if she takes on Caroline Wozniacki or Ekaterina Alexandrova in Monday’s third round.

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Edited by Rahul Arun
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