CHARLESTON, SC, USA -- No.9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland started her clay-court season off strongly at the Volvo Car Open on Monday, easing past 18-year-old Australian qualifier Destanee Aiava, 6-3, 6-0, in her Charleston opener.
Bencic, who reached the Charleston semifinals as a 140th-ranked qualifier in her tournament debut in 2014, had minimal issues moving past the World No.205 in just under an hour. The former World No.7 used the win to extend her excellent 2019 win-loss Tour-level record to 18-4, highlighted by her first WTA singles title since 2015 in Dubai.
The fiery groundstrokes from Aiava led her to 15 winners, more than Bencic's 11, but the Australian teenager was undone by 24 unforced errors, three times that of Bencic's total. Bencic converted six of her nine break points during the encounter, and won 72 percent of points off Aiava's second serve.
Bencic started with a bang, blasting a backhand passing winner to break Aiava at love to open the match. Bencic then saved three break points before consolidating for 2-0, then punched a winning volley on break point of the next game to open up a 3-0, double-break lead.
Aiava picked up the aggression on her serves and groundstrokes to ease her way into the match, getting on the board with a service hold to 4-1. The Australian teen fended off a set point with better deliveries to hold for 5-2, then kept her returns deep and her backhands on point to earn her own break at love and pull to 5-3.
But too many errors in the following game cut Aiava’s momentum short, and the Australian sent a backhand into the net on Bencic’s second set point to give the Swiss player the one-set advantage.
After the Aiava first-set fightback, Bencic quickly put the hammer down in the second set, and refused to let up. The ninth seed used a crosscourt backhand to break for 2-0, and used that same wing to eke out another break and once again obtain a 4-0, double-break advantage.
Bencic was determined to keep the streak rolling, summoning her first ace of the contest to set up game point for 5-0, which she converted after a netted return by Aiava. The Aussie teen saved one match point in the next game with a forehand winner, but Aiava double faulted on the second, and Bencic’s swift victory was complete.
World No.21 Bencic moves into the second round of the Premier-level green-clay event, where she will face American Allie Kiick, who dispatched France’s Pauline Parmentier, 6-3, 6-0, earlier on Monday.