Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs Belinda Bencic, Acapulco R1 Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, ??? Acapulco R1 Preview
(1) ?? Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs ?? Belinda Bencic

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni will be in unfamiliar territory as she enters the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL as the top seed. Lucic-Baroni will be in action for the first time since her extraordinary run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January. The 34-year-old may be the top seed but she will be the underdog heading into her first round match where she faces Belinda Bencic, Bencic is on a 6 match losing streak at WTA tour events and will be desperate to reverse that trend in Acapulco.

It will be fascinating to see how Lucic-Baroni responds in her first tournament back since her run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open. Lucic-Baroni had only previously won one match in Melbourne, way back in 1998, making her semi-final appearance in 2017 an unprecedented achievement. The Croatian has always been an erratic type of player, so it is very hard to know what to expect from her over the next couple of weeks.

Belinda Bencic has not had much luck in 2017. This is the second time Bencic has drawn the top seed in the opening round after she drew Serena Williams in the first round in Melbourne. However, this first round clash is very winnable and may be a blessing in disguise for Bencic as she will essentially take the number 1 position if she can win this match. Bencic finally won her first match of 2017 in a decisive Fed Cup match against Pauline Parmentier a couple of weeks ago, to secure a semi-final spot for Switzerland, this may potentially have been a turning point for Bencic.

Belinda Bencic has won both previous matches between the pair. A 7-5 6-3 win on the grass of Birmingham in 2015 and a 7-6 1-6 6-4 win in Sydney last year.

I suspect Bencic will again emerge victorious over Lucic-Baroni. Bencic likes to absorb pace and should be able to force Lucic-Baroni into hitting a few extra shots and the Croatian will ultimately hit too many unforced errors. I expect Lucic-Baroni to struggle over the next couple of weeks, it would be very typical for her to go on a losing streak after such a big result in Melbourne. Bencic on the other hand, is due for a good week.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in 2 sets


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