HOBART, Australia – Belinda Bencic proved too strong for Dayana Yastremska and moved through to the semifinals at the Hobart International with a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory.
It was the third time that the WTA World No.55 had beaten her teenaged opponent in a Tour-level match, and this time she avoided going to three sets as was the case when they last met in Luxembourg in 2018.
“We’ve always played tough matches, so I was prepared for the closest match ever,” she said. “It’s really tough to play her because she’s got so many big shots. She’s got winners but also a lot of unforced errors, so you have to run and hope for the best basically!”
Little was predictable about this encounter, in which both players had their spells of dominance.
A 48-minute first set was largely conditioned by Yastremska’s form as she hit 20 winners but 27 unforced errors, and though the Ukrainian replied by winning the first eight points of the second, the consistency of her opponent proved too much.
The opener was a strange affair in which both players blew hot and cold – sometimes within individual games.
Bencic struck out impressively by breaking her opponent in the third game of the match, consolidated her advantage and then moved into a 4-1 lead when her opponent double faulted then produced three unforced errors in succession.
Yastremska began to find her radar thereafter. Her heavy hitting and ability to produce winners from tight spots earned her one of the break backs and soon an increasingly frustrated Bencic found her advantage had been eradicated during a spell in which she won only two points in three games, including two on serve.
Indeed, the 18-year-old earned two set points when the Swiss served at 4-5, but she was unable to take either.
At no point in the set was a tiebreak inevitable, but once it arrived, it was dominated by Bencic. Yastremska double faulted on the first point and it would get no better for her thereafter as she lost the breaker to 2 points.
There was initially no clear pattern to the match in the second, either.
Yastremska was this time the player to start better, claiming all of the first eight points, yet the mistakes that cost her the first soon crept in and she found herself playing catch up against an opponent who was serving first.
Although Bencic missed opportunities, her consistency was the better of the two players, which earned her a break in the eighth game and, in contrast to what had been a largely uncomfortable encounter, she closed out the match easily on serve.
In the final four, Irina-Camelia Begu or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova waits.