Magdalena Rybarikova marched into the third round of the 2018 French Open with an excellent showing against the resurgent Belinda Bencic, triumphing with a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline after just an hour and 42-minutes of play. The Slovakian has never been comfortable on clay but this result will boost her confidence as she currently stands a high chance of making the second week, with her next opponent being Lesia Tsurenko fighting for a place in the fourth round.
Rybarikova was vicious on her first serves, winning 71 percent of points behind them while also hitting 20 winners in the process. However, errors were overwhelming from both players, especially from Bencic as the Swiss mishit her shots on 42 different occasions in the match, ending her chances of mounting a deep run here in Paris.
Rybarikova takes her chances and seals the first set
A quick exchange of service holds began the interesting clay-court encounter between both players but it was Bencic who struggled to deal with the crafty playing style of Rybarikova, who utilizes her slices and drop shots very often. The Swiss miss had to endure a marathon 13-minute game on her serve which lasted over 22-points, and after wasting seven game point opportunities, it was Rybarikova who came out of nowhere to make the first breakthrough as a forehand sent wide from Bencic gifted the Slovakian an early lead.
However, that game proved to be the start of three consecutive service breaks but even when the next service hold arrived upon us, the server did not have an easy time trying to consolidating the break. Rybarikova survived a tricky game after fending off a break point, applying the pressure at the net as her serve-and-volley tactics were highly successful. Bencic’s game started to fade away gradually and she continued to be wasteful on her opportunities, missing out on another two break points as the Slovakian fended off an incoming surge to take the first set 6-2 after 48 minutes of play.
Rybarikova recovers from an early deficit and takes the win in straight sets
Errors coming from Rybarikova almost proved costly in the early stages of the second set, having conceded two break points but the Slovakian was able to hold her nerves and ultimately remain on serve. However, Bencic would have rued her missed opportunities — tons of them — after going 2/7 on break points throughout the encounter and missing her chances in four different games.
Rybarikova and Bencic then traded breaks but the erratic Swiss found herself in some deep trouble once more in the fifth game. This time, she was able to gather up her impressive aggressive tennis and fired on all cylinders, grabbing the confidence-boosting hold.
The former top-10 player had the golden opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the match, but Rybarikova’s incredible net coverage saved her from the brink yet again, allowing her to stay level on the scoreboard. The missed chances certainly affected Bencic’s mindset as a slew of unforced errors came off her racquet in the next game, placing Rybarikova just one game away from the win.
Serving to stay in the match, Bencic had to struggle through another marathon game as she stunningly saved four match points before keeping herself in contention with a spirited service hold. Nonetheless, Rybarikova was close to being untouchable on serve as she served out the match comfortably for the excellent win, sealing her place in the third round for the third time in her career.
Special thanks to Jimmie48 Tennis Photography for his pictures provided!