US Open 2019: Bencic makes late push to win in three sets against Cornet
Belinda Bencic found herself in a hard fight but moved on to win at the US Open on Thursday. With a number of long rallies and frustration from both ends, the 13th seed came through a three-setter against Alize Cornet 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 on Court 17 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Bencic's win means she has improved to 16-7 in three-set matches and 11-5 in Grand Slam second-round encounters.
The pair met back in 2015, when the then-teenager displayed plenty of fight despite losing in three sets to the French star. She improved two tournaments later, becoming a memorable player who went on to win a premier title. With the major final still far away, the 22-year-old had the experience to level the head-to-head series and reach the third round for the first time in three years.
Cornet had a little trouble to start with early on after a double fault on the opening point but recovered after drawing errors from the Swiss. Bencic also recorded a double when serving the second, but held on to even against her determined opponent. Cornet's first serve struggles continued as she committed two more doubles. After a few breaks and time violation warning, she finally achieved the hold of serve. They remained on serve through six with Cornet setting the bar for the 13th seed to match.
In the ninth game, Cornet made a critical mistake with her fourth double-fault to gift Bencic an important breakpoint. Though it came on deuce, the Swiss international didn't need much effort to win that game and earn a 5-4 scenario with the ball to serve for the opening set.
Cornet tried to match Bencic in the tenth, though the 22-year-old remained focused to take a set lead after 50 minutes.
Cornet returns with improved showing in the second set
However, the 29-year-old returned with a better start to the second set and once again opened the action with a hold. Bencic responded in the same fashion, though Cornet achieved a second service hold before pressuring the Swiss enough to see her stumble in the fourth game.
A double-fault changed the course of Bencic's control as she relinquished breakpoints and eventually found herself 3-1 down. A chance to seal a break was foiled by her own hands as Cornet fell behind a few times during her service game. Despite this, Bencic made easy mistakes and was livid with herself after inadvertently gifting Cornet more chances to establish a second-set foothold.
Vulnerable and reeling from her increasing errors, Bencic struggled for a period and saw the gap widen as Cornet served for the chance to push the game into a deciding set. She did so with good court movement, notching her tenth winner after 38 minutes.
Bencic's service game was a mess after the second, winning less than 50% on both sides of her serve. After a rough set, she knew that a quick turnaround was key to success and got the first shot to lock down her serve, followed by a strong one from Cornet.
The match was a physical one, though Bencic's endurance was tested and her persistence proved pivotal as she managed to hold the third, before earning a break opportunity shortly afterwards as Cornet had issues with her knee.
Aware of the issue, the Swiss star held her end in the fifth but was unable to lock down a break against Cornet's defiance - as she fought on despite the pain she was in. With the break in hand, Belinda opened up with a 5-2 lead before pushing her in a serve to survive situation: Bencic forced errors and won the match on a seventh double-fault, completing a necessary win after two hours ten minutes.
During her on-court interview, Bencic said: "She's someone who brings a lot of balls back so I knew the rallies would be long. I still had to stay more aggressive and taking some risks is tough, so I had to find the right balance between my tactic and happy I won in the end."
With another match out of the way, she'll prepare for her Saturday encounter against 21st seed Anett Kontaveit in the Round of 32.