(Reuters) - Swiss giant-killer Belinda Bencic continued her brilliant winning run with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the first round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati in Tuesday.
Bencic, who shocked world number one Serena Williams in the semi-finals of last week’s Rogers Cup before going on to clinch the title, fended off fightbacks by the 11th-seeded Kerber in both sets before sealing victory in 90 minutes.
Though Kerber clawed back from 1-5 down in the opening set and 1-3 in the second, she ultimately paid the price for a whopping 48 unforced errors and seven double faults.
“The first set was a very difficult situation,” said the 18-year-old Bencic, who converted six of her seven breakpoint opportunities during the match.
”I had 5-1 and I was playing great, but then she played better and better and started going for her shots more until it was 5-all again.
“But then I was able to focus again and won my service game, and then I closed it out.”
Bencic, who is ranked 12th in the world, said she had gained a massive jolt of confidence last week after a dream run to her second WTA title that featured wins against Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic, Williams and Simona Halep in the final.
“You get confidence when you keep winning, and especially when you’re playing and winning on the big courts against the big players, so hopefully I can just keep going like this,” she smiled.
Bencic will next face Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, who beat Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-5 6-2 in the opening round.
In other matches on Tuesday, 10th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro was ousted 6-1 6-2 by American Sloane Stephens while former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus trounced American Lauren Davis, also 6-1 6-2.
Sixth seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia was scheduled to play American Venus Williams in the second round in an evening match on Tuesday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both