Bencic breezes past Muguruza

SWISS star Belinda Bencic was able to command the court against former world number one Garbine Muguruza, running out a straight sets winner on the opening day of the Adelaide International. A WTA 500 event, Bencic was coming off some hot form at the United Cup, and made an out-of-sorts Muguruza pay. Though the Spaniard was ranked third just 12 months ago, a poor 2022 season saw her slide all the way out to 58th in the world.

Bencic recorded an ultra-impressive 6-3 6-4 victory over Muguruza, winning in just 79 minutes and putting down 10 aces across the Round of 32 match. Dropping just four points off her first serve and three off her second, Bencic was clinical, producing an efficiency of 73 per cent, while only producing the two double faults.

By contrast, Muguruza only managed to win 69 and 52 per cent of her first and second serve points, and while she did produce eight aces, only went at a 56 per cent clip. While Bencic never faced a break point, she took her chances when they came to her, breaking the Spaniard once in each set to result in the 6-3 6-4 victory and moving into the second round of the tournament.

“I think I served really clean today, I think that was my biggest weapon,” Bencic said post-match. “I felt very comfortable in my own service games and I was able to put pressure on the return.”

The performance was one of Bencic’s most dominant of all-time, picking up a dominance rating of 2.64, which is beyond elite. It also meant she bounced back from her sole loss of 2023 where she went down to world number one Iga Swiatek during Switzerland’s United Cup defeat.

In her other match this year, she defeated Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in straight sets, but is backing up from a Billie Jean King title where she went undefeated, including a crushing 6-2 6-1 victory over Ajla Tomljanovic in the final, and not dropping a set all tournament.

Bencic will take on the winner of Latvian Jelena Ostapenko and Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya in the second round, with top seed Caroline Garcia a likely quarter finals opponent. The Swiss power player will be hoping she can make waves at the upcoming Australian Open, where she is seeded 12th overall.

In the only other WTA result in Adelaide, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova fought off Australian wildcard Jaimee Fourlis 7-5 6-3 to move into the Round of 16. In Hobart, there were three matches played with Marie Bouzkova and Jasmine Paolini both winning in straight sets over Romanian’s Jaqueline Cristian and Patricia Maria Tig respectively, while Xinyu Wang defied her lucky loser status to roll Australian wildcard Olivia Gadecki in the other contest.

In the main draw men’s in Adelaide, it was a mixed bag for both the British and Americans out on court. Jack Draper flew the flag for Great Britain during a 6-4 6-2 win over Italian Lorenzo Sonego, but both Daniel Evans and Kyle Edmund fell in straight set losses. The beneficiaries in those matches were Mackenzie McDonald and Miomir Kecmanovic, with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina getting past American Brandon Nakashima in straight sets, 6-2 7-6.

In the late match, Thanasi Kokkinakis won an epic struggle against Alexei Popyrin in a battle of the Australian wildcards. After cruising to a 6-0 lead, he was made to work for the first round win over three sets and two hours and 45 minutes, 6-0 6-7 7-5.

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