Belinda Bencic showed tremendous fighting spirit to stay alive at the WTA Finals on Tuesday. The 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory over Petra Kvitova in the Red Group kept her in the hunt for a semi-final berth at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. It also gave the Swiss star her first career victory at the season finale.
With a loss already under her belt, the Swiss powerhouse had an obstacle in the shape of the Czech, who had defeated her four times in five meetings.
Kvitova held to love to begin the match while Bencic held, despite her service game going to deuce. The Czech star kept maintaining pressure on the 22-year-old with her forehand. Bencic continued to hold through six games and had a break chance in the seventh game which saw a breakdown from the Czech, who kept committing errors. She chose to call down coach Jiri Vanek who gave his two cents on how to counter the issues.
Bencic didn’t give her opponent a chance to fix the problems. The world number seven played her serve smartly, opening the court that pressured Kvitova to err on the returns. Her attempts to stop the Swiss didn’t go well as Bencic had answers on her return forehand. Another error gave Bencic three set points and she converted one on a fourth double fault from the Czech, ending 33 minutes of action. 14 unforced errors proved to be costly for the 29-year-old.
She opened the second set with a break of the Bencic serve and consolidated with a hold to lead 2-0. Having conceded double break, Bencic took the opportunity to speak with her father and coach Ivan Bencic. He managed to get her to check her emotions and focus on her own tactics that ended Kvitova’s four-game winning streak.
Getting a second game wasn’t in the cards as the 29-year-old easily held to extend the match into a third set. The pressure on Bencic in the seventh game caused her to stumble with three errors in a row that sealed the set for Kvitova in 29 minutes. Vanek came out during the break to let his player know that limiting the unforced errors to six was the key to her dictating the third set.
The two held serve before Kvitova struck a break in the third game. It was the start of four total breaks that caused both the players lot of frustration. The Swiss struggled to match the offensive strength of her opponent in the eighth game but managed to level the set.
Drawing errors from Kvitova gave the 22-year-old the break needed to serve for the match in the tenth game. Showing tremendous first serve shots, the Swiss had the 2011 champion on the ropes with three match points. Kvitova managed to save one, but the forehand let her down, bringing an end to 1 hour and 47 minutes of play.