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Defending Champion Belinda Bencic Stunned at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship

Defending Champion Belinda Bencic Stunned at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship

Belinda Bencic faced Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her opening match in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The two had met 6 times previously, with Bencic leading the head to head with 5 wins.

A very poor start by Anastasia in the opening set was quickly forgotten as she came back with renewed fight and determination in the next two sets to win the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.


First Set: Easy pickings for Belinda Bencic

Belinda got off to a great start in the opening set, breaking Pavlyuchenkova in second game to go 2-0 up. The Swiss was serving quite well too as she consolidated the break with a hold to love.

The Russian looked shaken with the poor start and played a very tentative service game, unable to get her first serve in. She quickly went down -40 and hit an untimelt double fault to give Bencic her second break in the set.

There was no looking back after that as Bencic continued to hold serve well. Pavlyuchenkova looked completely lost in the set. It looked more like a practice match for Belinda than a competition. The Swiss took the first set 6-1 and looked very much in command of the match.

Pavlyuchenkova fights back

The second set was a whole another story. Or rather it was the same story except the two players swapped positions. This time around, it was Pavlyuchenkova who took the initiative and fought back hard.
The Russian took a very aggressive stance in the second set. She started taking control of the rallies, moving up and keeping close to the baseline. She started taking the balls early on, taking away time from her opponent. This turned the game on it’s head.
At 2-1, Anastasia broke Bencic to take the lead. Unlike the first set, she found her service rhythm well, which was another telling contribution in turning the match around. With a break in hand, Anastasia got her confidence back well and she never really looked back. She leveled the match by taking the second set 6-1.

Belinda Bencic crumbles

The third set was not any different from the second. Pavlyuchenkova broke Bencic in the opening game to take the lead immediately. The Swiss was looking increasingly frustrated and unsettled as her service games started getting erratic. Things were looking quite bleak for her now.
Pavlyuchenkova continued with her aggressive game after a dismal first set, and it worked like a charm. Bencic had absolutely no answers to her powerful ground strokes.
Anastasia did not hesitate to attack whenever she could, and approached the net every chance she got.
She looked a bit wobbly serving at 1-0 as she double faulted on advantage to give Bencic another crack at her serve. But a powerful and well-hit backhand down the line made shut the door again. A good wide second serve which Bencic could only hit in the net, gave Pavlyuchenkova a 2-0 lead in the deciding set.
Pavlyuchenkova got a bit lucky on the Bencic serve, getting two lucky net cords in her favor to go 0-30 up. A gorgeous backhand winner down the line gave the Russian three break points and a chance to go 3-0 up. She made no mistake to get her second break and take a commanding lead.
Serving to go 4-0 up, Pavlyuchenkova had a great chance to finish off the point at the net at 15-30, but hit her shot into the net, giving Belinda 2 break points. She promptly took the first one to get one break back.
However, Bencic could not hold her serve, limply giving Pavlyuchenkova a third break in the set. Clearly frustrated, Bencic could not help but throw her racket. pavlyuchenkova was on a mission to finish off the match quickly as she held her serve and broke her opponent for a fourth time in the third set to win the match.
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