To mark the end of a record-setting 2019 season, wtatennis.com is counting down our picks for the best WTA matches of the year. Looking for our favorite major moments? Check out our Top 5 Grand Slam Matches here.
Top 5 Best WTA Matches of 2019:
No.5: Simona Halep d. Bianca Andreescu, Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen
No.4: Ashleigh Barty d. Petra Kvitova, Miami Open
We turn to the clay for the match that comes in at No.3, with a look back at Belinda Bencic's comeback victory over Naomi Osaka in Madrid.
WHAT HAPPENED: Belinda Bencic maintained a mastery over Naomi Osaka over the course of 2019, but none of the Swiss' three victories was more dramatic than the one she scored at the Caja Mágica.
In their lone match to stretch the distance in 2019, Bencic rallied from a break down in the final set to beat the Australian Open champion in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Read the match report: Bencic fights past Osaka to book Madrid semifinal spot
After losing the first set and trailing 3-5 in the final set, the Swiss won the final four games to seal a place in what was her fourth semifinal of the season, and second at Premier Mandatory level.
As it happened: How Bencic came back from the brink to stun No.1 Osaka in Madrid
In what was a high-quality match from both players, Bencic used her expert counterpunching to great effect, withstanding 48 winners from Osaka's racquet and breaking serve six times.
WHAT THEY SAID: Despite beating Osaka with ease at the BNP Paribas Open, where the latter was defending champion, in March, the Swiss revealed that she took several lessons out of that clash, which was her first match against Osaka in six years.
"For sure it helped that I had played her before. I know how the ball feels. I feel like people underestimate who are watching on the TV. Her ball is very heavy, you cannot see, but she puts you under a lot of pressure with all her shots, so you don't have time to construct the rally and to play around," the Swiss assessed.
"I just really tried to play my game. I feel like she also has a little bit of problems with my game, so I tried to do what I did in the Indian Wells, like going in, taking the time away from her and, like, attacking second serves, having my serve...just these kind of details that I knew."
Meeting with reporters after the match, Osaka described the defeat as disappointing, but in a different capacity than the 6-3, 6-1 loss she suffered to Bencic in Palm Springs.
"I think in Indian Wells I was making so many unforced errors, but I felt like I couldn't control it there," she said. "The ball was just coming off my racquet really weird in a way that I couldn't control, so here I just wanted to play my game and play well and, like, hit angles when I can because of course she looks to move in so, basically, get her running.
"I think I was just thinking about too many things..I wanted to win this match more because she beat me already before and I just didn't want to lose twice in a row.
"Today was different from normal because when I made the mistake, all I could think about how important the point was and how could I let myself make such a mistake...I play the best when I'm calm and I wasn't calm today, so that is the biggest thing I can learn."
WHAT IT MEANT: Bencic made great escapes against the world's Top 10 a habit this spring, as she scored four similar victories over Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova en route to winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.
Having only scored one prior victory over a World No.1 in her career - when she beat Serena Williams in a stunner en route to winning the Rogers Cup in 2015 - Bencic racked up three more in 2019, all at Osaka's expense.
She sealed the hat-trick of victories in emphatic fashion at the US Open, as she ended Osaka's title defense in the fourth round en route to her first-ever appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal.