French Open 2019: Bencic clears Ponchet in straight sets
Belinda Bencic was confident in her opening round match at the 2019 French Open on Sunday. The 15th seed came out all guns blazing against Jessika Ponchet of France to deny her any chance of an upset, winning 6-1, 6-4 on Court One at Roland Garros. The Swiss star, who gained the leverage of being a powerful force, allowed herself to conduct the game well and move along in the main draw.
This was a first meeting between the two players and a serious start for the Swiss who knew she had a lot of momentum to let loose. The Swiss star, who performed beautifully during the clay court tournaments prior, got herself more than ready to make a serious run in Paris.
In just her fourth appearance, the 22-year-old was set to do some damage to her opponents and would do so against the French hopeful. Ponchet made her second appearance in the main draw and knew that something would have to go very wrong in order to make it beyond the first round.
Nothing did for Bencic as she opened play with a break of Ponchet's serve, allowing her one point on serve. She consolidated the break with a win to dig in well against the Frenchwoman.
Ponchet was quickly down four games and scored only 6 of 22 points elapsed. She somehow got herself together and locked down a victory in the fifth, taking a serious edge against Bencic on serve. It was the only one she saw in the set as Bencic returned to her dominant form with a solid service game before earning the break to love in the seventh that finished the set in 22 minutes.
The second set did not continue the way Bencic had hoped as she was blanked by Ponchet to begin the second stanza. The French crowd enjoyed the newly-found success of their compatriot which gave her the energy she needed. Ponchet made it 2-0 with a well-defended service game that gave her a nice little gap. Bencic cut the margin in half, serving her first hold of the set and got into a fight for control in the fourth.
After falling behind, Bencic forced deuce that started a push for the AD point. She stopped Ponchet from ending the game five times but never got the chance for a break. The effort from her end subsided just enough to hand the French star the two-game margin back. Bencic was clearly frustrated by the turn of events and launched a service game to get on top of Ponchet and secure the fifth. Adding a break to love got things even before she found a way to get back the lead to take a 4-3 stance.
The 22-year-old leveled back with Bencic in the eighth but the destined Swiss powerhouse was on a mission to finish her first day in action. She played against the serve of Ponchet, opening the gap that soon led to errors, helping the process. With three match points and pressure on Ponchet, it came to a close for her as she couldn’t get a winner just under the baseline that allowed the 15th seed a good victory after one hour and three minutes.
Bencic finished with a strong showing of consistency, keeping the serve near average and winning enough points to have a well-rounded finish. With 30 total winners and only 10 unforced errors, it left her with a high feeling of success to put the fear in her section of the ladies draw. She’ll prepare for a strong matchup against Laura Siegemund who also did well in her first round match, making it a high level challenge for both.
Published 26 May 2019, 21:03 IST