Bencic clinches thriller win over Osaka, clashes vs Halep at Madrid semis


Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in action against Naomi Osaka of Japan during their quarter final match of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica complex in Madrid, Spain, May 9, 2019. EPA-EFE/KIKO HUESCA

MADRID.-.- Belinda Bencic on Thursday beat first-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan in the last-eight round of the 2019 Madrid Open tennis tournament, setting a semifinal clash against Romania’s Simona Halep.

It took the Swiss pro two hours and 10 minutes to stage a comeback and eliminate Osaka, the winner of the last two Grand Slam titles – the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

Eighteenth-ranked Bencic who claimed her third career title at the 2019 Dubai Tennis Championships, conceded the first set to Osaka, but then started to play great tennis.

Osaka failed to stop Bencic’s comeback in the following two sets, the Japanese world No. 1 suddenly starting to play ineffectively.

It was clear from Osaka’s outbursts of rage against her racket, which she hit to the ground on several occasions, that the match was little by little going to Bencic.

The Swiss player clinched 80 percent of her first-serve points, seizing on six out of 11 break points against Osaka.

She also managed to save eight out of 12 break points that the Japanese tennis pro created across the match.

Osaka’s fourth appearance at the Madrid Masters came to an end following her second defeat to her opponent this year, as Bencic also eliminated her from the round of 16 at the 2019 Indian Wells tournament.

Bencic, who never got past the Madrid Open first round, has extended her head-to-head record against Osaka to 2-1, as the latter has won her first ever career match at the 2013 Pelham tourney in the United States.

The Japanese player’s defeat puts in danger her leadership of the WTA ranking, as Romania’s Simona Halep may snatch the top spot again if she wins the Madrid Masters, but the third-ranked player still has to face off against Bencic in the semis before making it to the final.

Halep has made steady progress at the clay-court tournament following her earlier 7-5, 7-5 win over Australian Ashleigh Barty on Thursday, continuing the Romanian player’s straight-set victories in Madrid so far. EFE

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