Sydney SF #2: (8) Belinda Bencic vs (Q) Monica Puig
Monica Puig’s fairy tale run in Sydney continues on Thursday night where she comes up against Belinda Bencic in the second semi-final at the Apia international. This will be the first every meeting between the pair and should be a highly competitive match between two in form players on the rise.
Belinda Bencic has had a strange week in Sydney, the Swiss rising-star has been very inconsistent throughout her matches but importantly she has played pretty well at the important moments. Bencic started the week with a nervy three set victory over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before defeating former champion Tsvetana Pironkova in straight sets. Bencic’s biggest test came at the quarter-final stage where she claimed a 6-0 2-6 6-4 win over Ekaterina Makarova. There were some anxious moments at the end of the match for Bencic, Makarova threatened to break and serve for the match in the eighth game but Bencic held her nerve before breaking Makarova to love in the very next game. Bencic had trouble closing out the match but her ability to save 11 of 14 break points was the difference in the end.
Monica Puig is having an outstanding week in Sydney, reaching her first ever premier level semi-final. Puig has had a long week, winning 3 matches to advance through the qualifying draw before recording victories over Magdalena Rybarikova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Sam Stosur. Puig’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she defeated Sam Stosur 6-4 6-4. Monica Puig’s service numbers were extremely impressive, the Porta Rican fired 14 aces past Stosur, including 5 second serve aces. Puig was able to save both of the break points she faced with big serves down the tee.
Bencic will rightfully start a clear favourite here and I believe she should find a way to get the job done. Puig has played some great tennis this week but she is very inexperienced in situations like this and does have a bit of a reputation for not handling pressure well. Belinda Bencic is now quite experienced in matches like this and is not daunted by the occasion. Bencic will probably be too solid and consistent for Puig from the baseline and should win this in a close one.