WTA Indian Wells: In-form Belinda Bencic downs Karolina Pliskova to hit SF


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WTA Indian Wells: In-form Belinda Bencic downs Karolina Pliskova to hit SF

The 22-year-old Belinda Bencic has been the best player on the Tour in recent weeks, winning the title in Dubai and marching towards another one at Indian Wells after a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova. The Swiss has won ten of the last 13 encounters against the top-10 rivals and six in a row to return into the top-20 for the first time since August 2016 and score her most significant result at Indian Wells.

Belinda needed two hours and 16 minutes to dismiss the Czech in their first meeting, playing better on both the first and second serve to fend off five out of seven break points. Those two breaks were not enough for Karolina for a more favorable result, playing against 16 break points and giving serve four times to end her run in the quarters.

A return winner kicked off the party for Belinda in the third game for an early break, dropping eight points on serve in the opener and securing it with a forehand down the line winner that secured another break in the ninth game.

Pliskova delivered necessary changes in set number two, creating more damage on the return and opening a 4-0 lead after saving three break points in the fourth game. Bencic pulled one break back at love in the sixth game when she landed a forehand winner and earning two more break points that could have sent her closer to the finish line.

Karolina repelled them to stay in front, saving another break point in game ten to seize the fifth set point and level the overall score before the decider. Belinda was back at her best in the final set, sailing through service games and missing a chance to secure the break in the fourth game when Karolina saved four break points to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Nonetheless, the Swiss grabbed 12 of the last 15 points to cross the finish line first, breaking at 15 at 4-3 when Pliskova sprayed a forehand error and sealing the deal with a service winner in the following game to advance into the semis.