Luxembourg Open: Bencic, Bouchard clinch main draw in straight sets win
Eugenie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic both cleared their way into the main draw of the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open Monday. The Swiss and Canadian won their final qualifying matches to enter the final WTA tournament of the 2018 season at the CK Sportcenter Kockelscheuer. Both won in straight sets with a 6-2, 6-3 start before winning the second 7-5 respectively.
Bencic played her second matchup against Varvara Lepchenko earning a three-game lead before the American had a chance to respond. She earned a break back in the fifth before levelling the score at three all. The 21-year-old gained back a two-game buffer with another break before serving out the set in 40 minutes. The second set was more of a challenge as Lepchenko was also playing for a chance to finish out the season strong.
She got into a break of serve rally with Bencic starting the set with two straight points. Lepchenko held in the third before they racked up four consecutive breaks. Bencic levelled things to four-all in the eighth, indicating that the set would be a tight race to the finish. They held serve through the next two decisions before Bencic gained three break points that nearly slipped away from her. The American saved every all but one of them to fall out of control and have to play against the serve of the Swiss player.
Bencic put it down with two match points which she didn’t get done allowing Lepchenko to force deuce for the third time in the set. It went down as the hardest fought game of the match with Lepchenko getting one chance to force a tiebreak but committed an error to do so. Bencic made her fourth match point count to clinch a spot in the main draw after 1 hour and 36 minutes.
Bouchard never faced France’s Jessika Ponchet before making it a good chance that she could make her way into the final tournament of the year. She delivered early with a break of Ponchet before conducting a small lead for herself.
Ponchet put down a serve to love in the third before she brought down the gauntlet on Bouchard. The players played a neck and neck battle where a long fight on deuce ensued. The two played eight long breaks with Bouchard needing a fifth AD point to keep her lead at two games.
With so much effort put in, the 24-year-old put the pedal to the metal and flew away with the set on her next service game. Her three-game winning streak ended the first set in 43 minutes with the Canadian serving 68 percent scoring more than two-thirds of points on it while keeping the second serve from getting out of hand.
It never did for both as Ponchet and Bouchard traded wins on their serve before a change for control went to the French star. She won her first break of Bouchard in the sixth before being broken back to keep a game within reach.
The Canadian levelled the score at four-all before she had to secure a way to still win the set on serve. She managed to consolidate the hold with a break in the 11th winning two break points to set herself up for the match. With plenty of focus, Bouchard cleared the way to match point at 40-30 to win her 94-minute qualifier.
With a short tournament standing in front of them, Bencic and Bouchard would have their last chance to set up a possible turnaround in the 2019 season to strike back as two top 10 competitive athletes.