World No 7 Belinda Bencic won her first match of the season Monday, but there was agony for Alex de Minaur as the men’s top seed pulled out of the Adelaide International. The Swiss, a wildcard entry who lost her opening match of the year last week in Shenzhen, beat good friend Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-4, 6-4.
Bencic, 22, who had lost her last two matches against the qualifier, overcame hot conditions at Memorial Drive as she makes final preparations for next week’s Australian Open. She survived a first set against Kasatkina featuring five breaks of serve and secured her second-round place with a break in the final game of the second.
Top two seeds Ash Barty and Simona Halep add a sprinkling of stardust to the women’s draw, and the duo will command plenty of attention when they get their campaigns underway later in the week after receiving first round byes. “I poked my head out to see Centre Court this morning and it looks incredible,” said a visibly excited Barty in her pre-tournament press conference.
Fourth seed Belinda Bencic, a late wildcard entry to Adelaide, will be hoping to challenge the top two seeds. “I just wanted to get matches in. I actually really regretted the mistake of not (originally) entering this tournament.”
The Swiss star was in action on Monday afternoon, battling her way into the last 16 with an scratchy 6-4 6-4 win over close friend Daria Kasatkina.
“I just wanted to get matches in,” said Bencic. “I actually really regretted the mistake of not (originally) entering this tournament.”
With tempers flaring on both sides of the net amid the early afternoon heat, it was Bencic who settled just enough to take her chances at the end of each set.—Agencies