By Jake Davies

  • Belinda Bencic [WC] def. Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
LINZ, AUSTRIA – Belinda Bencic progresses to the quarter-final stage in her comeback to the WTA tour.

The momentum gathering around wildcard Belinda Bencic continued as she won her second WTA main draw match in three-sets, defeating Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz event.

The 20-year-old won an ITF event in St.Petersburg last month, but was undercooked when it comes to performing on the highest level in a WTA main draw. Bencic truly did not know what to expect, how her body would react to the step up in competition higher up the toue, but she has come through unscathed after two big tests against quality opposition.

After the match, Bencic spoke about how she felt after getting to her first WTA quarter-final since s-Hertogenbosch in 2016, and talked through the elements to her game that satisfied her the most in this match:

“It feels great. I think I played a good match today. I was fighting through. My level was better than the first round (against Flipkens). I am happy that I can play and it feels great.

“I kept fighting and I kept being aggressive. I was pretty happy with my serve and I think that helped me through the third set. The second set slipped through my hands, but I don’t think I played bad or I missed chances. I think she stepped up her game a little bit. And I think in the third set I kept my composure.”

The numbers back up what Bencic was saying. She was largely untroubled in the first set on serve against a solid Spanish opponent.

Arruabarrena can be a hard player to break down as she moves so well deep behind the baseline and she makes the more aggressive players come up with great shots to get the better of her.

Like most Spanish players, including the likes of David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreño Busta, they all get the absolute maximum out of their tennis and Arruabarrena is no different.

The Spaniard was the more clinical on the break points in the second, but there really was not much between the two players. Bencic knew that raising her level, even marginally, would give her a great chance in getting the decisive set.

In the third-set, Bencic excelled with the down the line shots. Arruabarrena feels comfortable in the crosscourt rallies. The Swiss consistently played over the highest part of the net, the risky play in order to take the necessary time away from her opponent and it worked tremendously in this three-sets win.

Bencic also talked about the connection that she shares with new coach Iain Hughes. The well-respected British coach, who is mostly recognised for the great work he did with Elina Svitolina, is looking to do the same with Bencic as she tries to climb back up the rankings.

“First of all I think he is really experienced and I trust him completely with the game. I think he is great with the tactics and with his masterplans (laughs) and I think what he says makes sense to me. It fits with my game and I am very satisfied.”

Hughes was instrumental in Svitolina rising to a career high of No.14 before they parted ways at the end of the 2016 season. He ended that partnership on a considerable high as the Ukrainian made the Zhuha final and both Bencic and Hughes will be hoping  for a just as successful partnership this time around.

Bencic faces Mihaela Buzarnescu in the quarter-final on Friday at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.


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