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Belinda Bencic Saves Three Match Points to Win Abu Dhabi Title

Belinda Bencic denied three championship points in the second-set tiebreaker to defeat Liudmila Samsonova.

The walls were closing on Belinda Bencic as she stared down three championship points in Abu Dhabi.

Tugging on her visor, Bencic brought the house down with committed comeback.

Battling back from the brink, Bencic denied three championship points in the tiebreaker rallying past Liudmila Samsonova 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 to capture her eighth career title with a stirring Abu Dhabi fightback.

It is Bencic’s first win in four meetings vs. Samsonova, who put herself in position to prevail only to fall for the first time in five career finals.

“It was a very tight match today,” said Bencic, who has won six of her eight titles on hard courts. “I want to congratulate Liudmila as well and her team. She’s playing amazing. It was a great battle today. I’m happy to finally beat you after last year I lost to you three times.”

The explosive Samsonova has been a tennis terminator with a title trophy on the line. Samsonova carried a 4-0 finals record onto court and was in prime position to close playing a brilliant opening set and rallying from 2-5 down in the second set to gain championship points at 6-4, 6-5 and 8-7 in the tiebreaker.

There was no surrender from the second-seeded Swiss, who withstood fierce baseline firepower from her opponent to collect her second title of the year following her triumph at Adelaide International 2 last month.

The Olympic gold-medal champion improved to 12-2 on the season matching Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka for the WTA lead in 2023 victories. It’s the fifth WTA 500 level championship of Bencic’s career and she earned it the hard way.

It was a gut-wrenching loss for Samsonova, who lit up the court with winners nearly doubling Bencic’s winner output and showed class thanking fans and congratulating Bencic in the aftermath.

“It was amazing final of course. I’m happy to be here today so thank you very much,” Samsonova told the crowd after a painful loss. “It was an amazing year last year, I’m really grateful to have played another final this year.

“Many, many congrats to Belinda and her team for an amazing year also. It was amazing hearing the crowd cheering for me. Thank you very much for cheering me, I appreciate it.”