Luxembourg Open: Bencic outduels Rus in straight sets
Belinda Bencic put herself in a great spot to be the one to beat the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open on Tuesday. The 21-year-old who successfully made the main draw added a fourth match win against Arantxa Rus winning 6-2, 6-1 on Court One at CK Sportscenter.
The two met in the finals of Taipei last year that saw Arantxa go the distance in the opening set but be routed in the second for Bencic to take the title. With this being the last tournament of the 2018 season, the 27-year-old eyed her revenge against the world number 47 who made the draw on Monday to compete. Bencic has her longest winning streak dating back to Wimbledon where she made the round of 16 before losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. With this standing as her last official shot at success this year, the former top 10 player would try to start the tournament with a bang and keep her opponent back from beginning to end.
She held to open the match followed by a triple break chance that got away from her. Rus fought back to deuce but couldn’t hold the AD point at any point of the game. Her vulnerabilities showed enough for Bencic to cruise through the third to gain a grip on the set. She had the double break in hand before holding the fourth in what was looking to be a runaway. Rus put her to a stop adding aggression to her serve in the fifth that gave her breathing room to avoid the bagel. Her coach came out to have a chat with her giving her pointers on how to deal with Bencic’s tactics.
During the break, Bencic took a medical timeout to have an issue with a blister on her foot taken care of. It took some time for the process which iced Rus to wait it out. When she got to serve in the sixth, Bencic ran away with the break to lead 5-1 and serve for the set. Rus wouldn’t let her get the satisfaction and broke her for a second win to keep things alive.
It was the last one she would get as Rus opened the door for Bencic to secure the break and clinch her lead in the match after 34 minutes. While there much of a strong stance from the 21-year-old on serve, she did enough from it and held firm on the returns which Rus struggled on. With her chance to turn things around, the Dutch star would try to pull it together and open her opponent’s vulnerabilities.
She didn’t get the chance as the Swiss star was on a mission to keep Rus back and rally on. She held to open the set with a serve to love but couldn’t covert a break in the second. It got the Dutch player on the board but it was the last she would see. A hard fight in the third ended badly where she forced deuce but blew four total break points taking a lot out of her in the process. Bencic used that to her advantage and coasted through the next three games scoring a double break by the sixth game. She had the ball to serve things out where she reached three match points putting the 27-year-old out on her feet in one hour and three minutes.
Rus never had the push she wanted to counter against Bencic who was on top of her first serve landing 26 of 33 from the first while keeping her return game together. With four match wins under her belt since July, the 21-year-old would get set to take on the winner between hometown girl Mandy Minella or Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the second round.