From the dream for Belinda Bencic
Belinda Bencic, the secret favorite, is eliminated in the round of 16 at the Australian Open. The Swiss lost to the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in 87 minutes 5: 7, 2: 6.
Published: 16 minutes ago
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Belinda Bencic was almost constantly on the defensive against Aryna Sabalenka.
Olympic champion Belinda Bencic (25, WTA 10) lost to Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (24, WTA 5) at the Australian Open in Melbourne 5: 7, 2: 6. The eastern Swiss had to accept the two decisive breaks after a double fault. As the last Swiss woman, Bencic is the final stop in the round of 16 “Down Under”.
Bencic’s defeat may be a disappointment, but it’s not a step backwards. The 25-year-old Bencic can still step into the new season with great confidence and high hopes. Like Bencic, Aryna Sabalenka started this season furiously. She won the first tournament in Adelaide (Bencic won the second) and has not dropped a set in her first eight matches of the year.
Bencic got off to a better start in the round of 16. She led 3-1 and 4-2 in the first set. She put the Belarusian under pressure early on. The tactics she had worked out with coach Dimitri Turzunov (who had previously accompanied Sabalenka for two years) seemed to be working. But Sabalenka was able to react. The world number 5 increased – and gained the upper hand more and more clearly.
No second Dubai
In the second set, Sabalenka made the preliminary decision when she pulled away from 1:1 to 4:1. Bencic had a small chance to fight back into the set when she took a 30-0 lead against her opponent’s serve at 2-4. However, Sabalenka corrected the situation by winning four points in a row. The scenario from Dubai 2019, when Bencic made a great turnaround against Sabalenka after six match points had been saved and still won, was not repeated this time.
So the Swiss has to be content with being the first player in Melbourne to have taken more than five games from Sabalenka. Before the quarter-finals, the Belarusian is a hot contender for her first Grand Slam title, although Jessica Pegula (WTA 3) and Masters winner Caroline Garcia (WTA 4) still have two better-ranked players left in the tournament.
Especially since Sabalenka got her service problems under control between the old and the new season. Last season, she hit a staggering 428 double faults – by far the most on the women’s tour and more than a dozen in a single game. Bencic’s hopes that Sabalenka would support her with double faults were not fulfilled. Only in the third game, when Bencic managed the only break to make it 2-1, did Sabalenka make three double mistakes. During the hour and a half game, Bencic produced twice as many double faults (8) as Sabalenka (4). (SDA/kes)