NEW HAVEN, CT, USA -- Lucky loser Belinda Bencic of Switzerland took advantage of her second chance in the Connecticut Open, moving into the quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi.
World No.43 Bencic dropped her final-round qualifying match to Dayana Yastremska, but was the beneficiary when World No.1 Simona Halep withdrew from the field due to injury, inheriting Halep's spot in the draw, complete with a first-round bye.
“Obviously I’m very happy to get a second chance to play," Bencic told the media, after her match. "It’s obviously very good that I got to be in the second round, but if I don’t win, it doesn’t make a difference. So it was definitely very important to win."
"I felt even in qualies, I was getting better from match to match, so it was really unfortunate I lost," Bencic continued. "But, again, it’s very good I’m back in the tournament.”
Bencic had never beaten Giorgi, including a loss to the Italian in the 2015 's-Hertogenbosch final, which is still the Italian's lone WTA singles title to date. But the Swiss collected her first win over Giorgi in their three meetings after one hour and 42 minutes to reach the final eight in New Haven, for her second WTA quarterfinal of the year.
— WTA (@WTA) August 21, 2018
Bencic broke Giorgi six times on her 14 break points in the evenly-contested match, while Giorgi converted four of her 12 opportunities, which included a squandered chance in the final game of the encounter. Giorgi had 28 winners, seven more than Bencic, but she also had seven more unforced errors than the Swiss (37 to 30).
Bencic said that against Giorgi, "you don’t really get a lot of rhythm, so you really have to focus on yourself, focus on not giving her any points for free, even more. It’s very difficult mentally against her because you have to be very patient and not get frustrated."
In the quarterfinals, Bencic will face either Australia's Daria Gavrilova, the defending champion and No.9 seed, or rapidly rising Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who reached the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open last week.
The topsy-turvy first set began with Giorgi coming back from triple break point down to hold for 1-0 with a forehand winner, then breaking Bencic at love with another forehand winner, as the Italian’s high-octane game was in full flight at the outset.
But former World No.7 Bencic increased the aggression on her returns, particularly off the backhand side, and claimed the next two of Giorgi’s service games to find herself up a break. However, three more breaks of service followed in a row, as Giorgi joined Bencic in going for broke on return, and when the dust settled, the set was deadlocked at 4-4.
— WTA (@WTA) August 21, 2018
Bencic clinched another break in the following game, claiming a crucial 5-4 lead on her third break point of a protracted game as her backhand continued to lift her play. Serving for the set, Bencic finally had her first simple service game of the match, closing out the set with a backhand winner at the end of a rally.
Bencic moved to an early lead in the second set, breaking World No.45 Giorgi in the first game, but Giorgi was able to level the set at 2-2 after Bencic double faulted while down break point. But after her initial frustration, Bencic regrouped and quickly struck back, using her backhand passing shot to great effect as she reclaimed the break lead in the following game, at love.
Bencic held through to serve for the match at 5-4, and she reached match point with a strong serve. But Giorgi blasted effective crosscourt backhands on the next two points to reach break point, and a chance for 5-5. However, the Italian pushed a service return long on her chance, and after two more returns by Giorgi went awry, Bencic had sealed her victory.