Belinda Bencic pulled off a strong win against another tough opponent at the Qatar Total Open Wednesday night. The fourth seed had trouble early in the first set against Yulia Putintseva but rebounded winning 6-4, 6-3 on centre court at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex. It was her second win against the Kazak that nearly went south twice in the match.
The two met for the fifth time with Bencic trying to add another win against the Kazak, who has had her number on three occasions. Putintseva took down the Swiss star last year in Miami when the 22-year-old was gaining back her momentum of being in the top ranks of the WTA.
With a very hard start to Doha against Veronika Kudermetova, Bencic put her whole heart into Tuesday’s match, barely coming out of it with the win. In her fight against the Kazak, the World No. 9 hoped to have a grip on her opponent and move into the round of eight.
A serve to love opened things in the match with Bencic firing perfectly. Putintseva had her chance to lock down the service but an error forced deuce, giving the Swiss a break under her belt. The Kazak broke back but her serve was still vulnerable leading Bencic to take a 3-1 lead. The gap opened to three games for the fourth seed who stayed with it till she had a 5-2 hold on Putintseva. When it looked as if just one more break would do it for Bencic, the 25-year-old rallied to hang on for one more game.
Putintseva consolidated the hold of serve with a break in the ninth, causing concern in the Bencic camp that she was losing control. The tenth became a fight of desperation for both who became frustrated with fans in the stands who made noise at the wrong time. They went to deuce were after four breaks and two set points, Bencic got over the line with an error from Putintseva ending a 48-minute nail biter.
With the relief of winning the opening set, Bencic’s confidence burst open in the shape of a three-game sweep starting the second. Putintseva got on the board with a hold of serve in the fourth but faced another shutout by the Swiss star. The World No. 32 fought once more for a service game that cut the margin in half, hoping to rattle Bencic in another set.
In the seventh, Putintseva forced deuce leading to a fight from the Kazak to win another game. They went to five breaks where the 25-year-old had two break point chances but failed to achieve a key step. With the pressure to stay dug in, Putintseva nearly had a shutout in the eight but managed to still avoid giving Bencic the end she wanted two games earlier. In the ninth with two match points, the fourth seed got it done on a risky lob shot from Putintseva that fell wide of the line ending 1 hour and 28 minutes.
In her post-match interview, Bencid said,
“Yesterday was a really tough fight. It gave me so much confidence to survive those tough moments. That’s what I tried to do today as well because I was ready for another tough battle. Obviously against Yulia, it’s never easy.”
With another step in the right direction, the fourth seed would move into the quarter-finals facing veteran tennis star Svetlana Kuznetsova on Thursday.Published 26 Feb 2020, 23:13 IST