WTA Linz: Belinda Bencic ousts Lara Arruabarrena in high-quality affair

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Belinda Bencic’s unbelievable run continued at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz when she ousted the world number 80 Lara Arruabarrena in three sets for a first WTA quarterfinal appearance since June 2016. Earning two consecutive three-set victories in Linz, Bencic saved a match point to beat Kirsten Flipkens in the opening round and she will now face qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu in the quarterfinals for a place in the semifinals, with the win being extraordinary crucial for either player. The Swiss is now currently at the 189th spot in the live rankings, and another win would see her rise to the 159th spot.

Bencic starts the match aggressively

Bencic was the more aggressive player amongst the two, and that reflected on the scoreboard when she came into the match firing, producing some impressive play to earn multiple break points in the opening game. However, Arruabarrena was able to get the narrow service hold after the Swiss started to commit a couple of unforced errors, leaving all her efforts earlier wasted.

Nonetheless, the former top-10 player was able to send in some solid serves and soon got herself onto the scoreboard. Bencic continued to excel and kept looking for breakthroughs but Arruabarrena was able to claim the important points and was able to escape from the brink to hold her serve.

Belinda Bencic in action | Photo: Matthias Hauer / GEPA

Bencic claims the first set

However, what was meant to be will definitely come eventually as Bencic was finally able to convert a break point in the fifth game, with Arruabarrena throwing in a double fault on break point. The Swiss seemed to have returned to her vintage form when she continued to be invincible on her serve, and she soon found herself leading 5-3 within a blink of an eye. Surprisingly, Bencic was able to triumph in the longer rallies and also broke through the solid defense of Arruabarrena, eventually breaking serve once more as she took the first set 6-3 after just 34 minutes of play.

Arruabarrena fights back

The second set seemed like an exact replica of the first, just that it was Arruabarrena who took the early lead as Bencic started to commit more unforced errors than usual, gifting the break to the Spaniard in the third game. The world number 80 almost gave back the advantage immediately but produced two consecutive forehand winners to ultimately consolidate the break for a 3-1 lead.

The Spaniard levels the match

After an exchange of service holds, it was Arruabarrena who broke serve once again as Bencic wasted a couple of game point opportunities in the seventh game, clinching the break with an impressive backhand winner and displayed incredible athleticism with her extraordinary defense. The comeback seemed too late to be true as Arruabarrena was able to serve out the set moments later.

Lara Arruabarrena in action at the US Open | Photo: Matthew Stockman/ North America
Lara Arruabarrena in action at the US Open | Photo: Matthew Stockman/ North America

Bencic rebounds and seals the tough win

Bencic made the worst possible start to the final set as she started to misfire and gave her opponent free points. Although she was riding on her momentum, Arruabarrena was broken to love in the next game with Bencic regaining her composure on the short changeover. It soon became four straight games going to the world number 228 when she prevailed in lengthy return games before consolidating the break with her powerful serves.

Arruabarrena had no answers to the solid and consistent serving of the Swiss and often struggled in her service games as Bencic threatened to make another breakthrough in the sixth game. A return sent long from Arruabarrena eventually gave Bencic the hard-fought win in an hour and 51 minutes, sending herself into the quarterfinals.



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