Friday, March 15, 2019 - Angelique Kerber reacts to winning her semifinal match at the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
In a battle of grizzled tour veteran vs relative newcomer; it was the 31-year-old Kerber who flashed her championship pedigree in a straight-set triumph. She downed the Swiss 6-4, 6-2 in just over an hour of match time. While Bencic has enjoyed what can only be described as a magical start to her 2019, Kerber swiftly halted her momentum on a picturesque night in the desert.
For Bencic, the match’s first few games resembled her immaculate start to the 2019 season. Her title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last month was her biggest since Toronto in 2015; and included wins over Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova. Those four wins over WTA top-10’ers began a 12-match win streak that saw her reach the semis here at the BNP Paribas Open.
While she rode a tidal wave of momentum into Friday’s match, it still wasn’t enough to overcome Kerber’s sublime form.
After overcoming a difficult draw that included steady contenders Venus Williams and Aryna Sabalenka, the German entered her matchup with Bencic playing her best tennis of the year. She continued to impress on Friday, winning an impressive (7/9) 78% of her break point opportunities while employing an aggressive style that forced Bencic back on her heels.
In the end, Kerber’s 17 years of tour experience were too much for Bencic to handle, as the German stamped her ticket into the BNP Paribas Open finals.
There, she’ll meet another rising star playing an inspired brand of tennis. 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu has been the story of the tournament, as the world No. 60 entered the draw as a little-known wild card.
Kerber will look to make it two straight victories over ascending phenoms of the sport, and capture the 2019 BNP Paribas Open title in the process.