Dubai R1: (5) Belinda Bencic vs Jelena Jankovic
Belinda Bencic will be looking to build on a successful start to the season this week in Dubai. The young Swiss is one of the form players in the draw this week after a run to the final in St. Petersburg. Belinda will begin her Dubai campaign on Tuesday with a first round clash with a desperately out of form Jelena Jankovic.
Belinda Bencic arrives in Dubai fresh off a very busy week of tennis. The Swiss rising start helped guide Switzerland to a memorable Fed Cup victory over Germany where she recorded victories over Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber. Bencic then went on to reach the final in St. Petersburg which saw the 18-year-old reach the top 10 in the rankings for the first time in her career. Bencic picked up victories over Annika Beck, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina on route to the final in St. Petersburg but was outplayed by a red-hot Roberta Vinci in the final. Belinda stated after the match that she is not feeling tired despite all the tennis she has recently played and that she expects to have another good week in Dubai.
Jelena Jankovic has made an extremely disappointing start to the season and will desperately be wanting to turn her form around as soon as possible. Jankovic has not been able to string together consecutive victories in 2016. Jankovic’s Australian summer misery was highlighted by her shock second round loss to Laura Siegemund, a match that Jelena would have fully expected to win. Jankovic was in Fed Cup action for Serbia a week after Melbourne and didn’t enjoy any success there either, suffering straight set losses to Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro.
Belinda Bencic holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Jankovic. Bencic famously upset Jankovic at the U.S Open in 2014 whilst the pair traded victories in 2015. Jankovic recorded a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Bencic at Indian Wells before Bencic avenged that defeat with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win on grass in s-Hertogenbosch.
Bencic heads into this match with clearly superior form and levels of confidence, this is probably the biggest difference between two players who are generally quite evenly matched. It might be tough for Bencic to adjust to the conditions after a quick turnaround from reaching the St. Petersburg final but Bencic has shown great resilience in recent times and should be good enough to deal with an out of form Jankovic.