Wildcard Belinda Bencic is listed as one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw of the OEC Taipei WTA Challenger, and she certainly lived up to her status of a former top-10 player as she ousted the third seed Duan Yingying in the opening round, triumphing in a tight straight-set match which lasted an hour and 43 minutes, taking the 7-6, 6-4 win.
Perfect start for Bencic
Bencic had the perfect start to the match, carrying over the momentum from her triumph in Hua Hin last week. Hitting with precision and power, the Swiss quickly powered herself to an early lead having won the first eight points of the match. Bencic then easily consolidated the break for a 3-0 lead, looking comfortable on the indoor carpet courts in Taipei. Duan finally got going as she got onto the scoreboard with a spirited hold of service, lessening the deficit to two games.
Bencic opens up commanding lead and gets pegged back
Although Bencic lacked behind Duan in terms of power, the former top-10 player displayed consistency in her baseline game — something the Chinese was not able to produce. Keeping up the high level of her play, Bencic soon saw herself leading 5-2 and be just a game away from taking the opening set. However, her unforced errors started to kick in while trying to close out the set while Duan stepped up her game and dictated play throughout the rallies.
The Chinese looked to be in total control of the match, rattling four straight games and had the golden opportunity to serve out the set. However, there was still more to the plot as Bencic recovered from a 30-15 deficit, sending the encounter into a tiebreak. Despite trailing a mini-break in the early stages, the Swiss was able to fend off the tough challenge of Duan and eventually clinched the opening set after 49 minutes.
Tight start to the second set
Bencic and Duan had a tight start to the second set with both players being extremely solid on their serves. The former top-10 player threatened to make the first breakthrough in the third game, but with the help of some powerful serving, Duan narrowly escaped from the brink and kept herself in contention.
Duan takes the lead
With the score getting tighter, it was unexpectedly the Chinese player who broke serve first. Bencic played a poor game and her first serves abandoned her at the crucial moments as Duan went all out and exploited those vulnerable second serves. Nothing was going wrong for the third seed at the point in time, with everything clicking together in her game.
Bencic fights back and claims the win
A 4-2 lead for Duan almost certainly ensured that a deciding set would follow, but one bad mistake from 30-0 up while trying to consolidate the break ruined all her momentum. The Chinese started firing unforced errors more often than usual and was immediately broken straight back. Bencic slowly found her groove and regained her composure, taking a second consecutive break after Duan’s serve crumbled from 40-0 up, gifting the Swiss with a golden opportunity to serve out the match. After fending off an impressive four break points, Bencic finally sealed the win after holding serve in a 16-point marathon game.