Madrid Open 2019: Bencic powers through in straight sets over Kozlova

Belinda Bencic
Belinda Bencic
Rudy Martinez

Belinda Bencic has registered another solid win to move forward at the Mutua Madrid Open Tuesday. The world number 18 swept past Kateryna Kozlova 6-0, 6-2 on Stadium Three court at La Caja Magica.

Bencic’s dominance allowed her to reach her fifth quarterfinal of the season and a 24th match win so far this year.

This was the first meeting between the two European stars, with both notching up strong wins over tough opponents in the previous round. Bencic defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kozlova got past Karolina Pliskova, and they both had to work hard for their wins.

With a quarterfinal spot on the line, Kozlova couldn't get herself keyed in as the wind caused her to err. Along with that, Bencic was defending well too, which gave her a break to love.

Kozlova battled hard to try and get even with the Swiss, forcing deuce on the Bencic serve. But Bencic handled the situation well and secured the hold to open up a significant gap.

That quickly turned into a 5-0 lead for the 22-year-old as the errors started leaking from Kozlova's racquet. Serving for the set Bencic continued her tidy game, reaching two set points before taking the set in 24 minutes.

The world number 18 had clearly found her comfort zone, winning 11 of 12 points on her first serve and 8 of 11 points on Kozlova's first serve.

Kozlova registered a hold to begin the second set, but the 22-year-old comfortably matched her despite committing her second double fault of the match. Shen then forced deuce on Kozlova's serve before giving up the game on the second AD point.

Bencic continued to match the Ukrainian until a break opportunity in the fifth game gave her a chance to gain the lead. Kozlova somehow recovered ground to force deuce, but erred at the worst moment. She left the door open for the 22-year-old to gain another break point and eventually get the first break of the set.

That was just the push Bencic needed to get back into control as she comfortably held serve and added a double break to lead 5-2. The Ukrainian never had a chance as the Swiss reached triple match point easily, before a long rally ended with Kozlova hitting the ball long to end the one hour and three minute rout.

The 22-year-old got 61% of her first serves in and won 25 out of 27 points when she did, along with 14 winners. Kozlova on her part committed more than two dozen errors and looked overwhelmed from start to finish.

“I enjoyed that I was fighting and feeling the ball well,” Bencic said during her on court interview. “I had a good rhythm and I was aggressive through almost all the match. My serve was working well even though it was a little bit windy today.”

The real challenge awaits for Bencic now as she faces world number one Naomi Osaka for a second time this year in hopes that she can continue her winning run. “I hope I can win the next match of course,” she said. “She’s still number one and I’m number 18 so all the pressure is on her. Of course, I beat her at Indian Wells and it was a tough match. I’m definitely expecting a tough fight tomorrow.”

Edited by Musab Abid


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