Belinda Bencic had an easy match against Alison Van Uytvanck (WTA-132) last year when they met in Rosmalen. But it was a different story this time. The 19-year-old world number 8 had to use all of her skill to win the match: 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3).
Both players were making their comeback to the WTA Tour after time off for injury. Bencic last played at Charleston in the beginning of April (Charleston), when a back injury emerged. Van Uytvanck took time off to recover from an ankle injury after Miami at the end of March.
In the opening set Van Uytvanck regularly used her slice, but the top seed had little difficulty in returning the low balls in all directions. The Swiss player made few mistakes and pushed on to win the set.
In the second set the Belgian put more feeling in her play and she regularly used drop shots. She produced more winners and occasionally caused her opponent to despair.
Bencic was a shadow of the player she was in the first set and scattered faults. Van Uytvanck was ahead 5-1 and had set point on her own service, but failed to make use of her advantage.
Van Bencic’s comeback was short lived. At 5-3 she took the second break on love with a return winner but one game later a 30-15 advantage was not enough to equalise the standing.
The decisive set progressed evenly for a long time. It was the teenage talent who set up the first break at 4-4 after Van Uytvanck sent a backhand slice low into the net, but Bencic could not serve out. Finally the two women ended up in a tiebreak. They both kept the same pace until 2-2, but after that Bencic opened up a gap to 6-2. One point later she finished the two hours and 6 minutes battle with an ace.
To reach the quarter-final Bencic has to deal with Varvara Lepchenko (WTA-65). The American was leading 6-4, 4-0 when her Slovakian opponent Polona Hercog (WTA-84) withdrew.
Fourth seed Jelena Ostapenko needed only 48 minutes to defeat qualifier Jovana Jaksic (WTA-212) from Serbia. The Latvian will meet Sweden’s Johanna Larsson (WTA-55) or Ukranian Kateryna Kozlova (WTA-104) in the next round.