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US Open: Sasnovich takes over to win against Bencic in three sets

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
News
155   //    29 Aug 2018, 02:09 IST

2016 US Open - Day 1
2018 US Open - Day 2

Aliaksandra Sasnovich kept her first serve in check at the US Open on Tuesday. The unranked star from Belarus overcame a lagged start to the match against Belinda Bencic to win straight up 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 on Court 8 at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. 

The two made this their first meeting with both looking for a way to make this their best result in the final major of the year. Bencic returned for the first time since 2016 where she made the third round in hopes of doing so again.

She won five of nine games on the hard courts to this point while the 24-year-old didn’t get much time in the main draws losing out in the first round of the last two tournaments. With nothing to lose against the Swiss star, Sasnovich would hope for the best and put all she could into reaching the second round like she did last year.

The Belorussian held to open the match against Bencic who answered with a hold of her own followed by a break in the third. On serve in the fourth, the 21-year-old fired big from the forehand to widen the margin to two games. Sasnovich got back to serve to cut the margin for a short moment before finding the gap doubled by the Swiss.

With a comfortable game in her favor, Bencic continued to keep the pressure on Sasnovich playing well inside the court where she responded with focus on the returns to get her a set up after 29 minutes.

The Swiss star landed 12 of 14 for points on the first serve that was working more than two-thirds of the time. While she didn’t have many winners to her name, the one unforced error through eight games proved to be a big improvement on her end. A lot of work had to be done for the Belorussian whose overall offense wasn’t cutting it. With her return game struggling to get into gear, the 24-year-old was going to be in trouble going into the next set.

A change for her came right from the start of the set where she managed to put a good hold on Bencic. Consolidating that with the break was a huge statement early giving her confidence a boost to her service game. She delivered a big win in the third letting the first serve do all the work as it assisted in beating down Bencic’s return game. She became frustrated with her lack of response that soon saw her down 5-0 to the Belorussian.

She was able to get a hold together in the sixth putting all her energy into avoiding the bagel. Getting all the way back was a pipe dream for Bencic as Sasnovich gave herself plenty of chances to get it done on serve in the seventh. Her second try was the one to clinch a third set carrying an immense amount of momentum.

After the required ten minute break from the hot weather, Sasnovich picked up where she left off taking the lead from Bencic who served to begin the set. She earned the break in the third before firing away with the strong first serve that had yet to drop a point.

It was soon a 3-1 hold for Sasnovich who was on point to finish strong while Bencic wrestled with her lack of returns. When she served in the fifth, Bencic accomplished her first serve to love but couldn’t build on it to take the leverage away from Sasnovich.

The Belorussian went on to regain her two-game lead and attack the Swiss star’s offense with solid ball placement. It gave her a 5-2 stance with the ball in her hands to finish off the competition. She did just that building up enough match points to get it done on the second attempt that had her moving on after 1 hour and 52 minutes.

While her return game wasn’t the best, she had just enough to be above that of Bencic who couldn’t build on what she had going in the opening set. While she prepares to add more experience to the remainder of the hard court season, Sasnovich prepares for Thursday's match against the winner between Timea Babos and Daria Kasatkina.

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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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