WTA Linz: Belinda Bencic makes winning return from injury lay-off

Belinda Bencic was in fine form when she ousted Kirsten Flipkens in the first round of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, triumphing in three tough sets for her first WTA win of her comeback from a wrist injury.

WTA Linz: Belinda Bencic makes winning return from injury lay-off
Belinda Bencic celebrates her win | Photo: Matthias Hauer / GEPA
Belinda Bencic
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Kirsten Flipkens

Belinda Bencic had the perfect return to WTA tournaments after a wrist surgery as she managed to claim an impressive victory against the dangerous Kirsten Flipkens in the first round of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, having made good use of her main draw wild card. Bencic will now face Lara Arruabarrena in the second round of the tournament.

Tight start to the match

Playing in her first WTA tournament in over six months, Bencic made a firing start into the match but failed to convert two break points early in the opening game as Flipkens barely survived to take the tough service hold. The backhand of the Swiss was simply too impressive after she powered to a love hold of service, looking solid early on. The Belgian continued to remain clutch at the nerviest moments, fending off another break point and the scores were deadlocked at 2-2 after 20 minutes of play.

Kirsten Flipkens in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Kirsten Flipkens in action at the US Open | Photo: Matthias Hauer / GEPA

Flipkens makes the first breakthrough

Unexpectedly, it was just one-way traffic for the experienced veteran, who stormed to a formidable 5-2 lead as she managed to claim the important points with all the games going to 30-30. Bencic faced some early jitters and was unable to capitalize on her opportunities, committing some unforced errors as the rust in her game surfaced. Nonetheless, she seemed to have roared back into life by breaking straight back and saving three set points to return on serve. Just when she served to stay in the set, the pressure got to the Swiss and sent a backhand into the net to gift Flipkens the first set 6-4 after 47 minutes of play.

Bencic fights back

Bencic was determined to bounce back from the loss of the first set, and she immediately broke serve in the opening game of the second set, taking the early lead. The former top-10 player then consolidated the break for a two-game advantage, before she found herself jumping out to a 3-1 lead within a blink of an eye.

Bencic closes out the second set

Saving two game points, Bencic broke Flipkens’ serve once more in the fifth game as the second set looked all but over for the Belgian. The Swiss was extraordinary in the second set, being invincible on her serve as Flipkens was unable to gain any momentum on the return. Ultimately, Bencic successfully served out the second set 6-2 after just a mere 32 minutes, winning all her first service points in the process.

Belinda Bencic in action | Photo: Matthias Hauer / WTA Linz
Belinda Bencic in action | Photo: Matthias Hauer / GEPA

Great start to the decider for the Swiss

Carrying over the momentum into the final set, Bencic broke to love in the first game of the decider before saving a break point to consolidate the break for a 2-0 lead. Flipkens finally got onto the scoreboard with a tight service hold, and she had the golden opportunity to return level on serve as she earned two break points in the fourth game. However, some spirited play from the Swiss saw her eke out the tough hold of service, narrowly holding onto the lead.

Flipkens produces comeback but Bencic prevails eventually

Unexpectedly, the match returned on level terms with Bencic playing a sloppy sixth game to gift back the advantage, with the scores tied at 3-3. Six consecutive service holds followed as the fans eventually managed to witness a final-set tiebreak to decide the contest. The scores were equally as tight in the tiebreak, with no more than two points separating the two players. Bencic was second-time lucky, converting her second match point after saving a match point, sealing the win in a tough three-setter lasting two hours and 21 minutes.

Belinda Bencic celebrates her hard-fought victory | Photo: Matthias Hauer / WTA Linz
Belinda Bencic celebrates her hard-fought victory | Photo: Matthias Hauer / GEPA