MALLORCA, Spain -- No.3 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland staved off a strong effort from qualifier Shelby Rogers before the ailing American had to retire due to a right shoulder injury while trailing 5-7, 6-3, 3-1, allowing Bencic to book a spot in the Mallorca Open quarterfinals in her first appearance at the event.
"I’m really sad for Shelby that she’s injured, of course I wish her the best recovery and to get ready soon," Bencic said, after the match. "For me, I’m really excited to be in the quarterfinal, I think it was a tough match today, and I’m just really happy to be through."
Bencic and Rogers had played each other three times between 2013 and 2014, and each meeting had gone three sets, so it was not out of the ordinary that they went the distance once more. It was Bencic who eventually got the upper hand on Thursday, improving her head-to-head lead over the American to 3-1 once Rogers retired after one hour and 47 minutes of play.
"I just tried to refocus, I got very frustrated there in the first set in the end," said Bencic, who lost a 5-2 lead in in the opener before recovering. "I tried to start from zero and do all the things that I was doing when I was leading, so I managed to do that, and improve my serve a little bit when I needed it."
World No.13 Bencic had 23 winners in the match, including nine aces, while Rogers, ranked No.356 after missing nearly a full year of play during the last two seasons after knee surgery, had 36 winners, including 12 aces. Bencic, however, was able to convert four of her five break points during the affair, extending her lead to a break advantage in the decider before Rogers retired.
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In the elite eight, Bencic will now face No.5 seed Amanda Anisimova of the United States, who ousted Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet in the second round. It will be the first meeting between Bencic and Anisimova.
At the start of the match, it was Bencic who claimed the early lead, forcing errors from the American with pinpoint groundstrokes to jump out to an early 4-1 advantage. However, after a quick love hold for 5-3, the aggressive service returns by Rogers, which had been hit-or-miss in the opening stages, began to find their spots more regularly.
The American crushed a backhand return winner crosscourt to convert her first break point of the match, getting back on serve at 5-4. Rogers then fired a forehand winner down the line to hold for 5-5, and reached break point in the next game after a forehand crosscourt winner. A forehand miscue by Bencic ceded another break to Rogers, giving the American a 6-5 lead.
The qualifier would not waste that chance, using her powerful game to blast her way to double set point. On the first of her two chances, Rogers slammed her sixth ace -- which was also her 23rd winner -- to win her fifth straight game and take the opening set.
In the second set, though, Bencic would refuse to yield after another early lead. The Swiss player was handed an early break at 1-0 by an error-prone Rogers, and Bencic fired a clutch of winners in the subsequent game to move to 3-0. Bencic faced two break points at 3-1, but saved them with a winning dropshot and ace respectively, as she again took a 4-1 lead.
Two solid serves got Bencic out of a tricky game with a hold for 5-2, and, as in the opener, she served for the set at 5-3. Big hitting by Rogers allowed the American to withstand two set points, but a passing attempt at deuce by the qualifier found the net, which queued up a third chance for Bencic. That one was the charm after a wide forehand return by Bencic, and it was one set all.
The players exchanged breaks to start the decider before Bencic clinched a third break in a row to lead 2-1. Bencic fired an ace to hold for 3-1, as the pattern of the first two sets seemed to be repeating. But at 0-30 in the next game, Rogers, who had taken a medical time-out earlier, determined she was unable to continue due to her right shoulder injury, and stopped the match.