Belinda Bencic let her frustration get the best of her at the Miami Open Friday night. In the face of a serious challenge from Yulia Putintseva, the Swiss star found herself down and out in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat on Court Eight at the Hard Rock Stadium.
Untimely errors and lack of composure were the major factors that put the 22-year-old on a surprising two-match slide.
The two had met twice before in recent times with Bencic evening the series at the Australian Open where they went the distance in their second rounder. While neither went deep in the year’s first Slam, their seasons have been on a different path.
Bencic went 12 matches without a loss until the semis of Indian Wells, where she was blown away by Angelique Kerber. On the other hand, the Kazakh hadn't had much to show for her efforts at the start of the year, failing to reach a single final.
Through the first four games, both Bencic and Putintseva held serve fairly comfortably. Getting the lead was a mission for Bencic who tried to break Putintseva, but the 24-year-old held her ground to keep the hold of serve going.
Her defense was effective in the seventh game as she broke the Swiss to force her away ahead to 4-3. She consolidated the break with a tough fight to deuce where after a second saved break point, she got to the AD point and then held.
With Bencic on the ropes, Putintseva ran to the finish line, getting another break point chance that helped her wrap up the set in 39 minutes, riding a four-game winning streak.
A fifth consecutive game started the second set for Putintseva, an angered Bencic felt sure that she was being subjected to some incorrect line calls. With no Hawkeye available on the court, the 23rd seed was left with only her frustration to find a way to turn things around.
She got on the board with a hold, ending the Kazakh’s winning streak, but continued to trail as her opponent kept holding.
They remained on serve through six game but the emotions were still high between the two as calls that they wanted to run their way didn’t. Bencic broke through in the seventh with a good response to a Putintseva forehand. That produced the break she needed to force a decider; Bencic was one game away from winning the set.
But serving for the set the Swiss star felt the pressure as the 24-year-old answered every ball to break and extend the set onward. Bencic was beyond frustrated and smashed a ball out of the court, which cost her a point in the next game. She let the umpire have a piece of her mind but she would find herself down 0-15 and soon trailing 6-5.
With a big service game to stay alive in the match, the 22-year-old fell apart with a double fault and an error to start the 12th. She somehow battled the nerves and forced deuce, but she rushed the next shot to lose the AD point.
More errors gave Putintseva two more match points and Bencic eventually hit a poor crosscourt shot into the net. It was a stunning defeat for the world number 23 who couldn’t hold it together, ending the match in 1 hour and 38 minutes.
With this huge win in her bag, Putintseva will try to make it out of the third round for the first time as she faces Anastasija Sevastova this weekend.Published 23 Mar 2019, 08:00 IST