SHENZHEN – No 7 Swede Belinda Bencic defeated Czech No 6 Petra Kvitova in their red group round-robin clash at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen here on Tuesday, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Kvitova led Bencic in the head to head, having won three of their last four encounters since the Fed Cup last year. This second win for Bencic against Kvitova means that both players still have a chance to represent the red group in the semifinals pending the results of later matches.
The two players both held serve to 3-all in the first set, but Kvitova was already showing signs of shakiness. She coughed up 14 unforced errors (twice that of Bencic) including four double faults, which blunted the effect of decent 67 percent first service shooting and four aces in the opener.
Bencic turned up the heat at 3-all, getting two consecutive breaks on the way to sealing the first set in just over half an hour.
Kvitova turned the tables around in the second set in a big way. Kvitova broke Bencic twice out of the gate and held her own service to storm to a 4-0 lead.
Bencic’s hold to go 4-1 producers her only pair of staved-off break points of the set, as the Czech lived up to her reputation as one of the best returners on the circuit, shooting 71 percent and breaking once more on the way to dealing out a breadstick second set to force a decider.
After holding their initial services in the third, the two players traded breaks twice to go 3-all.
Although each player would hold a service a piece, Kvitova kept spitting out unforced errors (19 in total for the third set) handing Bencic a crucial fifth break and allowing her to go on to successfully serve out the match with ease.
In the post-match on court interview, Bencic noted that Kvitova was a tricky opponent, especially on return.
“It is so difficult for me to play Petra, her game is really big and her shots are really big. I am so happy at the end that I could keep my nerves calm. It means the most to me to be here [playing at] the top. I wanted to win a match here and I am happy that I did today,” Bencic said.
“I’m proud of blocking away her big shots and big returns to get the win today,” Bencic concluded.
Singles action continues here the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center Wednesday afternoon with two matches in the purple group.