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Fourth seed, Belinda Bencic faces Germany's Julia Goerges at the Adelaide International on Wednesday, with a spot in the quarter finals on the line.
Bencic vs Goerges is live from Adelaide on Wednesday, 15 January from 8:00pm local time/ 9:30am GMT
World No. 7, Bencic is attempting to reach her first quarter final of the season after failing to cross the opening round in Shenzhen last week.
The Swiss was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-3 by Russia’s Anna Blinkova in Shenzhen, but she got off the mark in Adelaide, registering her first win of the season with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina. Bencic trailed by a break in both sets against Kasatkina, but she fought back on each occasion, winning five of the last six games of the contest to close out the win after an hour and 25 minutes.
The 22-year-old is looking to build on a successful 2019, when she made her first Grand Slam semi-final (at the US Open), and returned to the top-10. The talented Swiss first cracked the top-ten as an 18-year-old in 2016, but with the world seemingly at her feet, her rise was curtailed by injury problems. Bencic dropped out of the top-300 in September 2017, but she painstakingly rebuilt her ranking, before accelerating in 2019.
She won titles in Dubai and Moscow last year, made a final in Mallorca, and was a semi-finalist in Hobart, Indian Wells, Madrid, the WTA Finals in Shenzhen and the US Open in a wonderfully consistent campaign. She started off the year outside the top-50, but she was up to eighth at the end of the campaign after peaking at No. 7 in October.
She will be looking to consolidate and improve in 2020, and a quarter final spot in Adelaide will do that cause no harm. Julia Goerges will have other ideas as the German aims to take down Bencic and reach back-to-back quarter finals at the start of 2020.
Goerges entered Auckland as the double defending champion, having won the title in 2018 and 2019, but her stranglehold on the trophy was broken last week, as she fell in the last eight to Caroline Wozniacki.
The German had stretched her winning streak at the tournament to 12 matches with victories over Greet Minnen and Jil Teichmann, but her reign was ended by Wozniacki, who pulled off a fine 6-1 6-4 victory. That defeat to Wozniacki also ended a run of four consecutive Auckland semi-finals for Goerges.
She has since put that behind her and moved on to Adelaide, where she opened with a 7-6 6-3 victory over Priscilla Hon. Goerges saved four set points before eking out the opening set, but the second set was more straightforward, with the German taking the last three games to complete the win.
Goerges started 2019 just outside the top-ten, but she lost plenty of ground with a string of poor results in the opening half of the year. She won her first event in Auckland, but made just one other quarter final in her next 12 tournaments. She improved as the year reached the mid-way point, reaching finals in Birmingham and Luxembourg, and making the fourth round of the US Open. Goerges ended the season at 28th in the world, but she has slipped further down at the start of 2020, entering Adelaide at No. 38.
Can she put together a deep run this week to get that ranking going in the right direction?
Goerges and Bencic have split their four previous encounters, with the German holding a 2-1 lead in their hard court matches. However, Bencic did score a tight three-set win in their most recent meeting in Toronto last year.
This is one of those matches that can absolutely go either way. Goerges serves bigger and generates more power off the ground, but Bencic counters that by taking the ball early and constantly redirecting the ball. A very tough one to call, but I’ll lean towards Bencic to move into the Adelaide quarter finals.