Bencic advances to Shenzhen semis as Bertens retires due to viral illness

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It’s almost unbelievable — three women from the small 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen field have retired during the round-robin phase.

Kiki Bertens Shenzhen 2019

First, Naomi Osaka quit because of a right shoulder injury after winning her opening match, then Bianca Andreescu retired due to a left knee injury after losing the first set to Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday, and now Kiki Bertens, Naomi Osaka’s replacement, couldn’t finish her Thursday’s match against Belinda Bencic.

The world No.10 Bertens victoriously opened her appearance in Shenzhen, beating No.1 Ashleigh Barty in three sets, and today against Bencic the Dutchwoman was the first to enjoy a lead, breaking the Swiss’ serve in the fifth game and then going 5-3 up.

From that point, it was all a downward spiral for Bertens, who called her coach Elise Tamaela after losing three straight games and complained about having trouble hitting backhands. Moreover, Bertens said that it hurt to bend, rolling and stretching out her back and shoulders during the changeover.

Belinda Bencic Shenzhen 2019

In total, Bertens lost five games in a row and then retired early into the second set, officially citing a viral illness, soon after a doctor checked her pulse and blood pressure.

It’s interesting that despite losing the first set, Bertens’ winners-to-unforced-errors differential was better than her opponent’s: -1, compared to Bencic’ -7.

This result means that the WTA Finals debutante Belinda Bencic has booked her spot in Saturday’s semis as the second-ranked player in the Red Group. She will face defending champion Elina Svitolina, who finished first in the Purple Group.

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