SHENZHEN, China - Needing a win to keep her quest of qualifying for the semifinals alive, Belinda Bencic delivered at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.
The Swiss held off Petra Kvitova in round robin action in the Red Group, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, to improve to 1-1 on her debut at the season-ending event, and stave off elimination.
"Against Kvitova, you never have anything in your hands. You're as well standing on the court and hoping she'll miss sometimes," Bencic said after the match.
"I think definitely she was dictating the game today. I don't think we played our best tennis, for sure not. Maybe in the end, the couple last games I found my game, my rhythm, my groove somehow. I'm super proud of that.
"Somehow I didn't even feel nervous. I had no pressure of not getting eliminated. I saw the script, like, what happens if this player wins, blah, blah, blah.
"I didn't know before the matches. I just played. I knew if I don't win this match I'm eliminated, but I didn't think about it."
— WTA (@WTA) October 29, 2019
After losing a three-set match to World No.1 Ashleigh Barty on Sunday, Bencic was the only player in the group who would've been elimated from knockout contention with a loss in her second match.
Nonetheless, the No.7 seed put together a run of games in each of the sets she won to score her second victory against Kvitova this season, winning the last four games of the opener and the last three of the match.
"I had 40-Love. She played two incredibly good points. She played really fearless. I was like, I have to play fearless now because I cannot push the ball in because she will kill it. I was taking it in my hands," Bencic said.
"I had a feeling she was going wide. I don't know. It was instinct, I think so. Definitely I was going into the point with, I have to hit the ball.
"It's really stressful to play her, at least for me. Obviously she takes everything in her own hands, if she's going to hit a winner or if she's going to miss.
"When you have this small chance, you feel like you really have to do something with it, which adds pressure to you, also to your serve. It just adds overall more pressure to you.
"I don't think she was at her best today either, even with the serve. I think it was a really difficult match, up and down. I was getting really, like, little bit angry. I think in the last three games I was happy I kind of hold my nerve in the end."
— WTA (@WTA) October 29, 2019
Despite being 0-2 in group play, Kvitova remains in contention to reach the semifinals, along with Barty and alternate Kiki Bertens.
Barty and Kvitova will face off in their last group matches, while Bencic will face Bertens.
"Ash is No. 1. It's always big challenge...I always like to play Ash," Kvitova said.
"It's something different. She's mixing a lot. We don't always know what she will bring. She has a great slice. Definitely she will use it here, especially on this surface.
"Of course, it's about my game, as well, how I going to handle her serve, her variety of game.
"I don't know the scenarios. To be honest, I don't want to know at all. Well, should be my last match of the season. I [will] really do my best there. We'll see what happens."