Charlie Stayt and Mike Bushell reminisce about tennis matches
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Belinda Bencic fumed at the chair umpire during her loss to Leylah Fernandez at the French Open. The incident took place early in the second set, with the Olympic champion leading 2-1, after last year’s US Open finalist claimed the opening salvo 7-5.
The official warned her for a time violation after failing to adjust to her opponent’s quick turnaround between points. In grand slams players have up to 25 seconds in between points to use the towel and serve to start the next point.
During the changeover, a furious Bencic yelled: “Just because she’s [Fernandez] playing in 10 seconds, I don’t have to be ready after 10 seconds, I have 15 seconds left. “Do you think I can be ready in 10 seconds in this huge stadium? Do you want to explain to me why she is playing in 10 seconds? You cannot be stressing players like this.
The umpire then responded: “I’ll give you an option”, but before he could finish, the world number 14’s tirade continued by asking: “What option? I went to the towel once in the game, one time, I’m not going to the towel every point. You have to be fair now, you have to be fair. The time is something but the brain is something else.”
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This lit a fire under the Swiss star who maintained her break of serve and went on to lead the set 5-3, before once again breaking Fernandez’s serve to take the set 6-3 and level the match. The 25-year-old broke early again in the deciding set before the teenager showed fight and broke straight back. She then held her serve to level the score at 2-2, and Fernandez gave herself an excellent chance of victory when she broke to go 4-3 up and left her opponent serving to stay in the match.
But Bencic held firm and was able to push to break and take it to 5-5, only to be broken back once again by the Monterrey champion, before Fernandez sealed her place in the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the first time in her career. The 19-year-old recorded her second successive victory over Bencic and reached the second week of a grand slam for the second time in her career.
But as Fernandez described her first five months of the season as “up and down”, she assessed her progress so far in her young career. “We don’t see it as – how do I say this? – as a failure, the first five months,” she said. “I see it more as I’ve got a lot to improve and I can just get better.
“I think that’s what we want to do is just to get better, because that’s the beauty of tennis, that we have a tournament every week and I can just keep working on some technical things, some tactical things.
“If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t work, we can just go back to the drawing board and get ready for the upcoming weeks and tournaments.”
She will face America’s Amanda Asinimova in the fourth round after Karolina Muchova had to retire from their match due to injury.
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