The fourth seeded Belinda Bencic begins her 2020 Dubai campaign on Tuesday with a tough opening round match-up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic, the defending champion in Dubai, has dominated this match-up in the past, but it is Pavlyuchenkova who enters this match with the better form having reached the Australian Open quarter-finals just a few weeks ago.
Belinda Bencic has made an average start to her 2020 campaign but enters Dubai at a career high ranking of 4 in the world. Bencic arrives in Dubai on the back of a disappointing second round loss to Maria Sakkari at the quarter-final stage in St. Petersburg. Bencic has a modest 5-4 win/loss record in 2020 and is under pressure this week as the defending champion.
Pavlyuchenkova has made a strong start to the 2020 season thanks to reaching the final 8 at the Australian Open for the second year in a row. In 2019 Pavlyuchenkova was unable to build on her strong start to the year, the Russian will be hoping to avoid a similar fate in 2020, starting with a good run in Dubai.
Bencic holds a commanding 5-1 head-to-head record over Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic has won the last 4 matches between the pair, including a 3-6 6-1 6-1 victory in the Moscow final last year. Interestingly it was Pavlyuchenkova who won their only previous match on an outdoor hard court, a 6-2 6-4 win in Washington back in 2015.
I’m going to side with Pavlyuchenkova here. Bencic has consistently played average tennis in 2020 and seems to be lacking confidence at the moment. Conversely, Pavlyuchenkova enters this match rested after a great run in Melbourne. The pressure is on Bencic here given her strong record over Pavlyuchenkova and given she is the defending champion this week. The scene is set for Pavlyuchenkova to overpower Bencic.
Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to defeat Belinda Bencic in 3 sets
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???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen SF #1 preview ?? (8) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? (7) Belinda Bencic
Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic will kick-start proceedings on semi-final day at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Svitolina and Bencic were the last two players to qualify for this year’s tournament but both have continued the recent trend of late entrants having success in the season finale. This should be entertaining clash between two of the tour’s most fearsome competitors.
Elina Svitolina is now just a couple of wins away from becoming the first player to win back-to-back editions of the WTA Finals since 2014. Svitolina is on an 8-match winning streak at the WTA Finals, a truly outstanding effort from the Ukrainian. The 8th seed is once again loving the court conditions at the WTA Finals, the slow, lifeless courts in Shenzhen are perfect for Svitolina, similar to the Singapore courts where Elina captured the title last year. Svitolina went through the group stage without dropping a single set, Svitolina claimed straight set wins over Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin to top the purple group.
Belinda Bencic has had a topsy-turvy route to the semi-finals in her first appearance at the WTA Finals. Bencic was beaten by Ash Barty in 3 sets on the opening day but responded with a 3 set win of her own against Petra Kvitova. Bencic secured her spot in the final 4 with a bit of luck on her side as Bertens retired ill midway through their crucial winner takes all clash. Bencic has nothing to lose this week and remains a big threat given her impressive record over top opponents.
It is Bencic who heads into this match with a 2-1 record over Svitolina. However it was Svitolina who came out on top in their most recent clash, a 6-2 6-4 win for Svitolina at the Rogers Cup earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Svitolina here. There is absolutely no doubt that Svitolina has been the most impressive player throughout the group stage, Svitolina is remarkably solid and just so tough to beat at the moment on these slow courts. The conditions should be favourable for Svitolina in this match-up, Bencic likes absorb and redirect pace but she won’t be able to do that easily in this match-up, instead she will be forced into a baseline scrap with many long rallies, this certainly favours Svitolina who is quicker, stronger and mentally tougher.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Belinda Bencic in 2 sets
???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview ?? (6) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? (7) Belinda Bencic
Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic will renew hostilities when they do battle in a crucial match from the red group at the WTA Finals Shenzhen on Tuesday night. Kvitova and Bencic were both defeated in their opening group stage matches meaning the loser of this match is highly unlikely to progress to the semi-finals, whilst the winner will have a fighting chance.
Kvitova is making her 7th appearance at the WTA Finals, the 2011 champion suffered a brutal loss in her opening match in Shenzhen succumbing to Naomi Osaka 6-7 6-4 4-6 despite playing a fairly good match. Kvitova battled from a set down in the second set to force a decider but was unable to get the job done in the decider in a match that followed a strikingly similar pattern to the Australian Open final earlier this year.
Belinda Bencic was also unable to get the job done in her opening match of the tournament. Bencic made a bright start to her WTA Finals debut as she won a tight opening set over Ash Barty but was eventually overrun by the world number 1, succumbing 7-5 1-6 2-6. Bencic will be disappointed with how noncompetitive she was in the final 2 sets and eager to rebound against Kvitova with a win.
Kvitova holds a fairly dominant 4-1 head-to-head record over Bencic. The pair have already gone to battle on 3 previous occasions in 2019, Kvitova defeated Bencic 6-1 6-4 at the Australian Open before Bencic defeated Kvitova for the first time in the Dubai final, a 6-3 1-6 6-2 win. The most recent match between the pair took place in Beijing about a month ago, Kvitova won 6-3 6-3.
I’m going to side with Bencic here despite Kvitova having had the better of this match-up. Kvitova is very much a momentum player, unfortunately for Kvitova that does not bode well for her here given she hasn’t won a match in almost a month. Bencic is battle-hardened and will make life tough for Kvitova on a slow, low bouncing surface. The surface will allow Bencic to get into more rallies where her greater consistency should give her the edge against a somewhat jaded Kvitova.
Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets
???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview ?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (7) Belinda Bencic
Ash Barty and Belinda Bencic will go head-to-head for the first time as the pair kick-start their respective debut appearances at the season ending championships. Ash Barty may head into this tournament as the world number 1 but she will have her work cut out to live up to that ranking, Barty has a poor record against her fellow elite 8 members and will face a tough first-up test against an in-form Bencic.
Ash Barty arrives in Shenzhen fresh from a strong Asian Swing. Barty reached the semi-finals in Wuhan before making the final in Beijing. A lingering calf injury was the only major concern for Barty during the Asian swing but she has had some time off back at home before arriving in Shenzhen and should be ready to go come Sunday. Barty finished 2018 on a high by winner the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai so she does have some experience in this type of event despite this being her first showing at the WTA Finals.
Belinda Bencic just snuck into the 2019 WTA Finals at the last minute. Bencic secured her spot in Shenzhen last week by winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Bencic claimed several hard-fought wins in Moscow under great pressure so she arrives in Shenzhen full of confidence and essentially with nothing to lose. Bencic may have been the last to qualify for the event but she is a contender, the Swiss player has a good record against her fellow elite 8 members and has always thrived when playing against the best.
Surprisingly this will be the first career meeting between Barty and Bencic.
I’m going to side with Bencic here. Bencic is battle hardened heading into this opening match having just won the Kremlin Cup a week ago, conversely Barty hasn’t completed a match in almost a month and may take a while to find her rhythm. Bencic has the consistent and efficient game to deal with the variety of Barty, If Bencic remains patient in the rallies and waits for her chance to pull the trigger up the line, she should be strong enough to get the better of the Aussie, especially on an indoor hard court.
Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Ashleigh Barty in 3 sets
???? US OPEN, SF match preview ?? (13) Belinda Bencic vs. ?? (15) Bianca Andreescu
A pair of maiden Grand Slam semi-finalists will go head-to-head for the second spot in the 2019 US Open final when the 13th seeded Belinda Bencic comes up against the 15th seeded Bianca Andreescu. This will be the first career meeting between Bencic and Andreescu, it will be interesting to see how this matchup pans out with so much at stake. Andreescu’s strong recent form means she heads into this match as the favourite but Bencic is the more accomplished player and will fancy her chances here.
Belinda Bencic navigated her way through the first week of the tournament quite easily, Bencic cruised past Mandy Minella in 2 sets before winning a topsy-turvy 3 set clash with Alize Cornet. Bencic received a walkover into the fourth round when Anett Kontaveit withdrew from their third round match. The 13th seed has stepped up her game in the last few matches to reach the final 4 at a Grand Slam for the first time, a 7-5 6-4 win over the top ranked Naomi Osaka followed by a 7-6 6-3 win over Donna Vekic suddenly gives Bencic a very real chance to go all the way in New York.
Bianca Andreescu continues to get the job done. Andreescu has become a third set specialist in 2019, she has won 11 consecutive matches that went the distance. The Canadian’s latest third set triumph booked her a spot in a maiden Grand Slam semi-final when she came from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3. Andreescu has won a couple of 3-time matches in a row in New York having defeated Taylor Townsend in 3 in the fourth round. It was a simple progression for Andreescu through the first week of the event with straight set wins over Katie Volynets, Kirsten Flipkens and Caroline Wozniacki.
I’m going to side with Belinda Bencic. I think Bencic has what it takes to end Andreescu’s winning streak. Mertens outplayed Andreescu in the opening set of their quarter-final clash, the strong, disciplined, flat hitting of Mertens got the better of Andreescu as she was able to move Andreescu side-to-side and open up the court, Bencic can execute a similar game and should be able to sustain a high enough level to get the job done. Bencic is slightly more solid off both sides of the court and seems to be in better shape physically heading into this match. Andreescu’s backhand can be exposed and her fitness may also be exposed by Bencic.
Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Bianca Andreescu in 2 sets
???? US OPEN, QF match preview ?? (13) Belinda Bencic vs. ?? (23) Donna Vekic
A spot in a maiden Grand Slam semi-final will be up for grabs when Belinda Bencic and Donna Vekic go head-to-head at the 2019 US Open. This is a huge opportunity for both players looking to take the next step in their respective careers. Bencic and Vekic are good friends and are very familiar witch each other’s games, it will be interesting to see how this matchup pans out with so much at stake.
Belinda Bencic heads into this quarter-final clash on the back of a huge win over the top seed and defending champion. Bencic booked her spot in a second career Grand Slam quarter-final with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Naomi Osaka. Bencic has won more matches over top 10 and top 5 opponents than anyone else on tour in 2019, clearly she likes the challenge of playing a top player, can she bring the same attitude into this quarter-final clash with Vekic?
Donna Vekic is through to the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam for the very first time. The 23rd seed cruised through the first week with straight set wins over Richel Hogenkamp, Kaia Kanepi and Yulia Putintseva. Vekic claimed her most notable win at the fourth round stage where she battled from a set and a break down to defeat Julia Goerges 6-7 7-5 6-3. Vekic has won multiple matches in 2019 from similarly precarious positions, a testament to her fighting spirit.
Bencic holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Vekic. However, it was Vekic who won their most recent match, a surprisingly comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory at Roland Garros earlier this year.
I’m going to side with Bencic here. Simply, I believe that Bencic is superior to Vekic in every aspect, she is the better player. Bencic heads into this match full of confidence after a big win over Osaka and should be smart enough to execute her game and get the better of Vekic on a surface that favours the Swiss player.
Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Donna Vekic in 2 sets
???? Roland Garros, R2 Preview ?? (15) Belinda Bencic vs. ?? Laura Siegemund
An intriguing second round clash from Roland Garros on Wednesday sees the 15th seeded Belinda Bencic take on Germany’s Laura Siegemund. Bencic brings great form into the second Grand Slam of the year but is yet to prove herself on the Parisian clay, Bencic will face a stern challenge of her clay court credentials here against a very troublesome opponent on the red dirt.
Belinda Bencic kick-started her 2019 Roland Garros campaign with a comfortable 6-1 6-4 victory over Jessika Ponchet. Roland Garros has historically been Bencic’s least successful Grand Slam event, Bencic has only won the 3 main draw matches in Paris and has never progressed beyond the second round, easily her worst record at a Grand Slam. Bencic’s hopes will be higher in Paris this year after some great results on clay heading into the event. Bencic notably made the semi-finals in Madrid earlier this month and also reached the quarter-finals in Charleston earlier this year.
Laura Siegemund also arrives in Paris with a poor record at Roland Garros to her name. Clay is easily Siegemund’s favourite surface so it is very surprising that the German entered this event having never won a main draw match in Paris. Siegemund finally broke her duck in Paris with a straightforward 6-3 6-3 win over Sofya Zhuk but will face a much tougher test against the 15th seed in the next round.
This will be the first tour level meeting between Bencic and Siegemund, two feisty competitors with a point to prove in Paris, who will prevail?
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??? BNPPO19, Indian Wells – SF Preview ?? (8) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? (23) Belinda Bencic
A blockbuster semi-final clash from the Californian desert sees Angelique Kerber take on Belinda Bencic with a place in the BNP Paribas Open final up for grabs. Belinda Bencic is arguably the hottest player on tour at the moment as she enters this clash on an 11-match winning streak. Bencic also enters this match with a winning record over Kerber at the tour level, however the German is a proven champion who becomes increasingly difficult to beat at the business end of big tournaments.
Angelique Kerber is through to the semi-final stage in Indian Wells for the third time. Kerber’s route to the final 4 hasn’t always been easy. Kerber received a bye through the opening round before cruising past Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-2. Kerber was forced to dig deep in her next couple of matches as she required 3 sets to get the better of Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Aryna Sabalenka. Kerber produced arguably her best performance of the season thus far in a 7-6 6-3 victory over Venus Williams to confirm her spot in the final 4.
Belinda Bencic is on a roll. Bencic arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai and has continued her winnings ways in Indian Wells to extend her unbeaten run to 11 matches. Bencic received a bye through the first round before cruising through her first few matches with straight set wins over Alison Van Uytvanck and Ekaterina Alexandrova. Bencic’s most impressive performance came at the fourth round stage where she claimed a surprisingly easy 6-3 6-1 win over Naomi Osaka. Bencic secured her spot in the final 4 for the first time in Indian Wells with a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova.
Belinda Bencic holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Angelique Kerber at the tour level. However, Kerber has also beaten Bencic in the last couple of years at the Hopman Cup. Overall, the head-to-head record is 3-3 and Kerber has won their last 3 matches. Their most recent match was the Hopman Cup a few months ago where Kerber won 6-4 7-6.
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??? BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R4 Preview ?? (1) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (23) Belinda Bencic
Two of the WTA tour’s most in form players will collide in Indian Wells on Tuesday evening when Naomi Osaka comes up against Belinda Bencic. This match-up sees the world number 1, defending Indian Wells champion and reigning US Open / Australian Open champion take on a resurgent Belinda Bencic who is on a 10-match winning streak having arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai.
Naomi Osaka was under pressure heading into this event and there were some real question marks surrounding her title defense after she split with her coach a few weeks ago and lost her opening round match in Dubai. However, Osaka has made a strong start in Indian Wells. The world number 1 started the event with a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic, avenging her loss to the Frenchwoman in Dubai last month. Osaka then went on to produce an impressive performance to blast her way past Danielle Collins 6-4 6-2, if she maintains that level she will be hard to beat this week.
Belinda Bencic has been totally untroubled in her first couple of matches in Indian Wells. Bencic started the event with a 6-4 6-1 win over Alison Van Uytvanck before defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-2. Bencic is on a roll at the moment, momentum is certainly on Bencic’s side and she will need all of that positive energy when she takes on the world number 1 in the next round.
Osaka and Bencic have never met at the tour level before. They have previously played at the Hopman Cup last year where Bencic won in straight sets and at an ITF event in 2013 where Osaka won in straight sets, these previous results are mostly irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how their first tour level encounter unfolds.
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Roland Garros, R2 Preview ?? (19) Magdalena Rybarikova vs. ?? Belinda Bencic
The 19th seeded Magdalena Rybarikova will face a tough test when she takes on Belinda Bencic in the second round at the Roland Garros on Thursday. Interestingly, Rybarikova and Bencic will both be playing to reach the third round at Roland Garros for the very first time. This is a huge opportunity for both, who will step up and take it?
Rybarikova cruised through her opening round match in Paris, claiming a comfortable 6-3 6-0 win over Luksika Kumkhum. Rybarikova has made a habit of performing well at the Grand Slam level, the Slovakian reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year followed by a third round appearance in New York and a fourth round showing at the Australian Open earlier this year.
In her first match since Indian Wells earlier this year Bencic managed to fight from a set down to claim a gutsy 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Deborah Chiesa. Roland Garros is easily Bencic’s least successful Grand Slam event to date, the only Grand Slam where she has not reached the second week, perhaps that will change in 2018?
The head-to-head record between the pair is squared at 1 win apiece, both matches went to 3 sets. Bencic beat Rybarikova at Wimbledon in 2014 whilst more recently Rybarikova claimed an upset victory at Indian Wells in 2016. Who will sneak ahead with a win in Paris?
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