Bencic v Andreescu: Things we learned

 - Chris Oddo

Belinda Bencic fought off a late push, navigating past Bianca Andreescu to match her best Paris performance

Belinda Bencic Roland-Garros 2022 2e tour©Julien Crosnier / FFT

Belinda Bencic continues to ride the hot hand on clay in 2022.

On Wednesday, the Swiss No.14 seed reached the third round in Paris for the second time in six career appearances with an impressive 6-2, 6-4 win over Canada's Bianca Andreescu, setting up a last-32 clash with No.17 seed Leylah Fernandez.

Bencic owns a 0-1 lifetime record against Fernandez, who defeated the Swiss in straight sets at Billie Jean King Cup in 2020.

Here's what we learned from Bencic's stellar performance against the former US Open champion.

The lower half opens up for Bencic

The 25-year-old Swiss finds herself in a great position ahead of the third round.

After the loss of several top seeds in the lower half, including defending champion Barbora Krejcikova, No.4 seed Maria Sakkari and No.6 seed Ons Jabeur, world No.14 Bencic is now the highest-ranked player remaining in the lower half of the draw.

If Bencic can get past Fernandez, she would face either 27th-seeded Amanda Anisimova or unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova in the round of 16. Getting that far would also mark a career-best performance in Paris for Bencic.

The bottom half is indeed a wide open land of opportunity on the women's side.

Serving darts

Bencic was dominant in all phases against Andreescu during their second head-to-head meeting, but her first serve was particularly impressive. She won an eye-catching 30 of 39 first-serve points against the 2019 US Open champion, and was not broken until she served for the match with a 6-2, 5-2 lead.

In total Bencic only dropped 20 points on serve.

If we look at the Swiss' serving stats before she served for the match at 5-2 in the second set, they are even more impressive. At that point Bencic had won 22 of 25 first-serve points and dropped just 10 points on serve.

She put herself in a position to win with her pinpoint serving.

Belinda Bencic, Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

A different match-up on clay

In their only previous meeting, in the 2019 US Open semi-finals, Andreescu was able to edge Bencic in straight sets, 7-6(3), 7-5.

It was a meaningful triumph for the Canadian, who would later go on to claim the US Open title and become the first player in history to win the tournament on her main draw debut.

In that battle in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Andreescu was able to outlast Bencic and beat her on the big points. The Canadian saved all six break points she faced in the opening set in the meeting, but she could not protect her serve on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday.

She was broken four times by Bencic, and even though she mounted a late push, holding serve twice in succession to close within a game in set two, she was not able to crack the concrete ground game of Bencic in the end.

Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Bianca hits back, but too late

Andreescu appeared to he headed for an easy defeat, but she doubled down her efforts and nearly came away with the second set because of it.

Trailing 5-1 Andreescu pushed back and rallied back to 4-5 with Bencic serving.

Bencic, under the gun, found a way to escape by saving a break point at 5-4, 30-40 with a magnificent service winner out wide. She then shut the door six points later to improve to 1-1 lifetime against Andreescu.

"Of course this is tennis and maybe I need a little bit of drama," Bencic said of the dicey finish. "I think Bianca is a great player so of course it was going to be tight. I lost the focus a little bit - I think that's enough for her to come back. I'm happy in the important moments I was strong, and I think this was the most important, to show some fight."

With the loss Andreescu drops to 2-2 lifetime at Roland-Garros and 7-4 on the season.

Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Belinda's best season on clay

She isn't known for her performance on the sports' slowest surface, but it has been a brilliant run on the clay for the Swiss this season.

The Olympic champion entered 2021 with a 25-26 lifetime record on clay, and a 5-5 lifetime mark on the terre battue of Roland-Garros.

This season she has won 11 of 13 matches on clay and claimed her maiden title on the surface at Charleston, when she defeated Jabeur in the final, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

With Wednesday's victory, Bencic ties Anisimova for second on the WTA Tour in clay-court wins.