BNP Paribas Open: Angelique Kerber ends Belinda Bencic's onslaught with straight sets win
Angelique Kerber was the answer to taking down Belinda Bencic at the BNP Paribas Open Friday night. The German gave the 22-year-old very little in her strong performance to win in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 on Stadium One at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The ability to keep the surging Swiss star down brought an end to her 12 match winning streak.
The Swiss powerhouse had just two players left in her wake before making a massive tournament upset. While it was the seventh meeting between the two Euro stars, she has three wins against her in the past. Kerber stopped her in their recent three meetings that included denying her the Hopman Cup this season.
With one match before the final, the eighth seed would try to become the first woman of 13 that can avoid going down to the tremendous fight that Bencic had inside her. Kerber has never been in a final in the California desert and would try to keep that hope glowing.
She was challenged right off the bat during the opening game that took the players to deuce with Bencic gaining break points. After three breaks, the Swiss star got the one that clinched the win. They got on serve for two games that allowed the 22-year-old to stay out front. She lost the fourth that evened Kerber but she was broken back in the fifth where Bencic held the breakpoint.
She gained back a two-game margin briefly before the German rallied to take the next pair of games to make a serious move. A hold in the ninth put Bencic on the edge of going down in the first with the ball in hand to serve. The defensive game of Kerber drew errors from Bencic who fell behind and couldn’t give a tricky moment for the German as she answered strong to take the set after 38 minutes.
The eighth seed had her game in check serving 72 percent as she won 14 of 23 and three of five break points won. With the answers coming against the 22-year-old, she would try to keep it going into the second.
Bencic broke Kerber again to start the set but it didn’t grow into anything as the German was well under control of her offense. She broke back in the second before consolidating the hold in the third for the early lead. She added a third straight that forced Bencic to call down her dad who had a two-way conversation where the 23rd seed voiced her frustrations while her coach tried to give her ideas on how to counter.
It brought her within reach of a tie after five but with the serve struggling for her, it gave Kerber opportunities to hit the ball at the right moment. The 31-year-old went on to take the break while staying as cool as a cucumber.
She continued to deal out the big groundstrokes to Bencic that handed her a 5-2 lead with the Swiss star seeing her run near its conclusion. Kerber attained free points in the eighth with three match points in her hands. A double fault was the key point to Bencic’s demise that gave the world number eight a sweeping victory that took one hour and seven minutes to complete.
Attacking the offense and return game of Bencic was the key to bringing balance back to the sport as she would go into Sunday with a shot at her first title in the Southern California desert. In her way would be Canadian youngster Bianca Andreescu who like Bencic had nothing stopping her and would need to find it inside her to challenge the German.