United Cup

Bencic & Huesler Give Captain Wawrinka Closeout Opportunity

Switzerland leads Kazakhstan 2-0
December 29, 2022
Belinda Bencic battles past Yulia Putintseva in two sets to give Switzerland the lead against Kazakhstan at the United Cup.
Albert Perez/Getty Images
Belinda Bencic battles past Yulia Putintseva in two sets to give Switzerland the lead against Kazakhstan at the United Cup. By ATP Staff

World No.12 Belinda Bencic opened her season with a tense 7-6(0), 6-3 win over No. 51 Yulia Putintseva on Day 1 of the United Cup in Brisbane, before Marc-Andrea Huesler extended Switzerland's lead to 2-0 against Kazakhstan in Group B.

Bencic secured the straight-set win by coolly reeling in Putintseva, who led by a break early in both sets. After falling behind 4-1 in the opening set, Bencic fought off three set points on her serve to level at 5-5. She took her momentum into the tie-break, where she kept a clean sheet to secure the opening set after 72 minutes.

"I'm happy I kept fighting," Bencic said. "For sure the positive attitude as well from my team, the crowd, and the great atmosphere got me through."

Bencic pulled off another comeback in the second set, though with fewer dramatics. Despite falling behind 1-3, the Swiss Olympic champion never lost her cool. With both team captain Stan Wawrinka and coach Dmitry Tursunov urging her on, Bencic cleaned up her errors and ratcheted up the pressure to win the next five games.

"How can you not listen to such a champion when he's telling you things," Bencic said, referring to Wawrinka. "I was trying to listen, to focus, and do what I had to do."

The victory leveled Bencic's head-to-head against Putintseva to 3-3.

<a href=''>Marc-Andrea Huesler</a>
Photo: Getty Images

Huesler also needed to work hard Thursday evening, ultimately battling past 21-year-old Timofey Skatov 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 23 minutes.

Skatov scratched and clawed for his country inside Pat Rafter Arena, showing the talent that helped him to his maiden ATP Challenger Tour crown last October in Italy. But the Swiss was too calm under pressure, saving six of the seven break points he faced to triumph.

Huesler is playing the best tennis of his career aged 26, sitting at a career-high No. 56 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The lefty, who claimed his first ATP Tour title last year in Sofia, was just inside the Top 200 this time last year.

Playing captain Stan Wawrinka will have a chance to seal the tie for his country in the No. 1 men's singles match on Friday when he faces another playing captain, Alexander Bublik. The Kazakhstani leads their ATP Head2Head 2-0, with both their previous clashes coming in 2022 (the second lasted three games before Wawrinka retired).

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