2016 Rioch Open

Bencic wins bruising battle

Eastbourne champ edges into semi-final spot

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic used her get out of jail cards by winning two tiebreaks – 7-6(6) 7-6(2) – against Viktorija Golubic to book a semi-final berth at the Ricoh Open in Holland.

The top seed, who is competing in her first tournament in two months following a back injury, made hard work to beat the gutsy qualifier.

And so far here at ‘S-Hertogenbosch, the world #8 has been in contests of oozes and bruises to reel off a trio of closely fought matches.

The Swiss teen sensation romped to last year’s final, destroying all those opposite the net.

But 12 months and the 19-year-old is labouring her victories and looking uneasy at time, obviously lacking her usual sharpness because of her recent WTA Tour lay-off with a back injury.

In both set she relinquished the leads she had carved out and was forced into the lottery of a tiebreak, winning both to progress.

The first set tiebreak became a real tussle for Bencic to see off her Fed Cup team-mate and close friend 8-6.

And the second set also became a ding-dong battle with yet another tiebreak, although Bencic overshadowed Golubic to make it a 100% winning record since returning to the circuit.

Bencic beamed: “I just fought with everything I had and it was a very intense match, but I’m happy that I fought through it.

“It’s good for both of us from Switzerland that we’re in the quarter-final here, and I’m very happy to be back in the semi-finals.”

Kristina Mladenovic, who overcame Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens in straight sets, faces Bencic for a place in Sunday’s final.

The pair – who are set to compete at this season’s Aegon International in Eastbourne – met at last season’s event, Bencic getting the best of French Doubles expert Mladenovic.

The other semi-final will be between Americans, Madison Brengle due to take on big-serving powerhouse CoCo Vandeweghe.

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