No.2 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland claimed a spot in her second quarterfinal of the season with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on Wednesday.
World No.9 Bencic came back from 5-3 down in the second set to grab the straight-set win over 57th-ranked Kostyuk after 1 hour and 35 minutes of play. Bencic improves to 2-0 against Kostyuk, having also beaten the Ukrainian at Miami last year.
"I was expecting it to be a tough match against Marta," Bencic said after her first match of the week, following her first-round bye. "I’m happy with how everything went, maybe some things I can improve, but it’s always nice to get the first [win]."
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Bencic has a win-loss record of 9-2 so far this year, which includes her seventh career singles title at the Adelaide International 2 in January. Her only two losses this season have been to World No.1 Iga Swiatek at United Cup and eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open Round of 16.
Kostyuk is also having a strong season, and she was seeking a spot in her third quarterfinal on tour in 2023. But the Ukrainian was unable to hold onto her second-set lead, and she is now 0-12 against Top 10 opposition in her career (0-3 this year).
Bencic was brilliant on serve in the first set, where she never faced a break point and won 94 percent of her first-service points. However, after Bencic took a 2-0 lead in the second set, Kostyuk won five of the next six games to suddenly serve for the second set at 5-3.
But Bencic broke back immediately to get back on serve, and she followed up a passing winner with a forehand winner to break Kostyuk again for a 6-5 lead. Bencic closed out the win in the next game with an unreturnable serve, having won the last four games of the encounter.
Bencic’s quarterfinal opponent will be American qualifier Shelby Rogers. World No.46 Rogers advanced to her first quarterfinal of the year after No.7 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia retired from their second-round match while trailing 4-6, 6-3, 4-1.
After dropping the second set and falling behind 3-0 in the third set, Kontaveit received a medical time-out. The Estonian made it two more games before ending the match due to a lower back injury.
Like Bencic, Rogers' Australian Open run ended at the hands of eventual champion Sabalenka, who won their second-round clash in Melbourne.