Bencic ends Gauff run to set up Swiatek final

26 February 2021, by Matt Trollope

Second seed Belinda Bencic set up a final against fifth seed Iga Swiatek at the Adelaide International with a hard-fought win over Coco Gauff on Friday.

The Swiss player came through 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-2 in the night session to move within one victory of her fifth WTA title.

“I’m super-relieved,” said Bencic. “I tried to fight the best that I can. I have huge respect for Cori Gauff. She’s a huge fighter and at this age it’s really impressive.

“She really gave me a hard time and at times I really didn’t know what to do any more. I’m happy I’m through and into the final.”

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Gauff led 4-1 in the early stages before she was pegged back, and both women had their chances as the opening set reached a climax.

The American fended off two break points impressively at 5-5; Bencic responded by recovering superbly from 0-30 to force the tiebreak.

After her early struggles, Bencic was now locked in on the Gauff serve and returning it with interest, prompting the frustrated teenager to hurl her racquet as the set slipped away in a one-sided tiebreak.

Bencic, 23, powered into a 3-0 lead in the second as the exertions of coming through qualifying as a late entry looked to take their toll on Gauff.

However, she gathered herself for another charge and almost drew level in game eight, only for Bencic to break serve once again with a brilliant forehand pass after chasing down a Gauff lob.

One match point went begging as Bencic failed to serve out the match at 5-4, and the Swiss was then angry to be denied a second match point when the umpire insisted a point be replayed despite a fizzing return from Bencic.

Another tiebreak was required, this time Gauff forging into an early lead and converting to level the match.

The momentum appeared to be with the American but in the event it was Bencic who dominated the decider, regrouping after the disappointment of not closing out the second by racing through six of the last eight games.

Polish star Swiatek stands one win away from her second career title after beating Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-2 in the first semifinal on Friday afternoon.

The reigning Roland Garros champion, seeded fifth in Adelaide, has not dropped a set this week in four victories.

And it means she has won 15 of her past 17 matches entering Saturday night’s final.

“It was my goal from the beginning of the season. I want to be, like, more consistent player, just play good week by week,” said Swiatek after advancing to her first tour-level final on hard courts.

“I know it’s impossible sometimes. You’re just going to get tired at some point. But I felt pretty good from the beginning of the tournament.

“It’s really important for me. Just I feel that it’s going to be easier year by year because I’m going to be, like, more grown up, I’m going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week.

“It was my goal, so I’m pretty happy everything worked here.”

The weapons which have brought her so much success in the past few months – heavy, powerful groundstrokes and scintillating court speed – helped deliver Swiatek a break point in the fourth game, after she played a running forehand passing shot to draw an error from Teichmann.

She converted with a backhand winner down the line for a 3-1 lead.

Swiatek’s ability to go from defensive to attacking positions within a rally proved the difference as the set wore on, and she stretched her lead to 5-2.

Two games later, a forehand winner followed by a forehand volley winner delivered her a bunch of set points at 40-0, and two points later she pocketed the set.

Teichmann continued to fight, and held serve for a 2-1 leave following a taut eight-minute game.

But although she served bravely when she found herself in tricky situations, the constant pressure Swiatek was applying eventually wore her down.

The world No.18 broke in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and ended up winning the final five games of the match as Teichmann’s unforced error tally swelled.

She finished with 23 errors to Swiatek’s 15, while the Pole belted 18 winners.

Earlier on Friday, Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Gaurachi advanced to the doubles final after beating American duo Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria 6-1 6-2.

Krawczyz and Guarachi, Roland Garros finalists in 2020, will face American Hayley Carter and Brazil’s Luisa Stefani, who beat China’s Yang Zhaoxuan and Xu Yifan 6-2 6-3.