Belinda Bencic defeated Liudmila Samsonova in the Abu Dhabi Open final on Sunday to clinch a second title for herself this year. The Swiss came from down a set and saved three match points to notch a 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 win after almost three hours of play.
Samsonova, who’d gone into the match with a spotless record against Bencic of 3-0 started off with that record at the back of her mind. She won 88% of her first-serve points to Bencic’s 50% and 62% of points on return on the latter’s second serve.
Two break points on Bencic’s serve powered her through the set while she saved the lone break point she faced.
Abu Dhabi Open: How Belinda Bencic changed the course of the match
Bencic’s comeback was immediate in the second set and she even served for the second set in the ninth game.
However, she was broken back and both players held on long enough to enforce the tie-break. Samsonova had three match points in the tie-break, the first at 6-4, then at 6-5 and then the last, at 8-7. On all three occasions, she was thwarted.
Bencic eventually went on to convert the set on her second set point, at 9-8. Both players traded a break each at the start of the deciding set but Bencic broke for a second time in the fifth game of the set and held on long enough to serve the match out, on her first match point in the 10th game of the set.
Post-match, the 25-year-old shared, “It’s been a really tight match, and I’m happy to turn these match points around. I just really tried hanging in there and scramble for every point, and just do my best.
I’m really happy to walk away with the title here and I think I played some really good matches, but they were also tough. I proved to myself that I can really fight hard and just stay in the matches and somehow turn it around”.
The Abu Dhabi Open title’s the eighth title of Belinda Bencic’s career. In 2023, this title follows the one she won at the Adelaide International 2. Meanwhile, for Liudmila Samsonova, this was the first time she’d lost in the finale of a WTA event she’d contested.
Prior to this, the world no. 19 had won all four previous finals she’d played. Photo Credit: IMG Tennis Twitter