Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel after enduring months of injury setbacks and plummeting down the rankings.
The 20-year-old was once tipped to be the next Martina Hingis. A former world No.1 in the juniors, Bencic cracked the top 10 at the age of 18 in February 2016. By that time she had already reached a series of WTA Finals, winning two Premier titles in Eastbourne and Toronto. Everything was going in the right direction until disaster struck.
Bencic’s progression on the tour was halted by a numerous injuries occurring in 2016 and 2017. Thigh and back (coccyx) problems forced her to miss a series of events, but it was her wrist that was the most troublesome. She was forced to undergo surgery on her wrist earlier in the year, resulting in the Swiss player missing almost five months of the tour.
It is easy to forget Bencic’s misfortunes given her recent surge on the tour. In September she won an ITF $100,000 tournament in St.Petersburg, Russia. Her first title since 2015. Following on from that, she won back-to-back WTA 125 titles in Thailand and Chinese Taipei last month.
“Obviously I’m just enjoying to play again and I haven’t expected to play that many matches but I’m super happy to get the confidence back and the matches back, the rhythm back, so I hope I can continue here like that and we’ll see.” Bencic told Sport 360 in an exclusive interview.
Despite it officially being the off season, Bencic isn’t finished playing tournaments. This week she is seeded fifth at the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge. A $100,000 ITF tournament played in Dubai. In a city where she will also be training ahead of the 2018 season, Bencic seized upon the opportunity to combine practice with play. Illustrated by her first round win over Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko.
“It’s the first time I’m doing it actually. I would be here doing the preparation anyway and I have a tournament in front of my nose so why wouldn’t I play it? I think it’s good because we can figure out how that works for the first time so we’ll see and until now it’s good and I’m enjoying it,” she explained.
Guiding Bencic on the tour is coach Iain Hughes. The former coach of Elina Svitolina. Prior to the appointment of Hughes in July, it was Bencic’s father, Ivan that oversaw her performance.
“I’m very happy we’re working great together I think, it’s definitely showing. I mean my father was here too, he’s still supporting me and watching every match but he’s more traveling with my brother now.”
Bencic will face Tereza Martincová in the second round of the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge later today. Regardless of the outcome, she is on course to play at the Australian Open in what will be her first grand slam main draw appearance for 12 months.
Looking ahead to the new year, Bencic isn’t thinking too far ahead. Instead, her focus is on taking things slowly. An unsurprising revelation by a player that has already been hampered with a wide range of injuries at a young age.
“I’m still taking it step by step, it was a bonus that I actually qualified for the Australian Open. I was expecting to play the qualies so I’m actually taking it much easier now,” she stated.
Bencic has been ranked as high as seventh in the world.
Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname
The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.
Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.
Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.
“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”
Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.
“I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”
Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.
Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.
Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo
The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.
Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’
The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.
Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.
“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”
The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.
“She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.
The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.
During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’
“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”
Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics
The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.
Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.
The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.
” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “
The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.
Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.
Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.
The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.
Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold
Belinda Bencic battles past Marketa Vondrousova to win gold in Tokyo
Novak Djokovic Faces No Regrets Over Olympic Participation After Missing Out On Medal
Rafael Nadal Returns In Washington Ahead Of Historic US Open Bid
Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova Play for Gold
REPORT: Wimbledon Matches Under Investigation Over Suspicious Betting Patterns
Daniil Medvedev Fumes Over Heat, Cheater Question At Olympics
Roger Federer Rules Out Retirement In ‘Immediate Future’ But No Guarantee Of Return To Wimbledon
Kristina Mladenovic Handed Hefty Fine Over ‘Off Court’ Incident At Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic Has ‘Best Momentum’ To Break All-Time Grand Slam Record, Says Nadal’s Ex-Coach
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is the clear favourite, but Tsitsipas and Djokovic have a shot”
French Open, the women’s draw. Flink: “Osaka’s press conference boycott is a mistake”
ATP2 days ago
‘Probably Gonna Quit’ – Tennys Sandgren Blasts Performance After missing Out On Olympic Medal
ATP3 days ago
Fabio Fognini Apologises For Use Of Homophobic Slur During Olympic Match
Hot Topics3 days ago
‘The Greatest Thing In The World’ – Delighted Belinda Bencic Secures Olympic Medal At Tokyo
Hot Topics2 days ago
Novak Djokovic Feels ‘Terrible’ After Gold Medal Hopes End In Tokyo
Hot Topics2 days ago
Karen Khachanov Reacts To Reaching Olympic Final In Tokyo
Focus3 days ago
Marketa Vondrousova dominates Elina Svitolina to reach Gold Medal match
ATP2 days ago
Updated Entry List For Washington
Focus2 days ago
Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays in the Semifinals of both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles