Just 25 Years Old, Belinda Bencic May Be Ready To Make Her Mark - UBITENNIS
Connect with us


Just 25 Years Old, Belinda Bencic May Be Ready To Make Her Mark



CHARLESTON, S.C. (USA) — Belinda Bencic is quite an impressive tennis player.

She has all of the shots, and amazingly she just turned 25 years old with a decade of pro experience. The Swiss standout looks very capable of adding a major achievement at the upcoming French Open.  She already owns an Olympic gold medal in women’s singles (2021). Before Paris, she has achieved another feat, winning her first WTA Tour singles title on clay and sixth singles title in all. She should celebrate what she accomplished Sunday afternoon for a few days.


It was no cakewalk against 5-6 Tunisian Ons Jabeur in the final of the $900K Credit One Charleston Open. Jabeur gave it her all, but could not match the brilliance of Bencic in the first and third sets of Bencic’s 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 win in Sunday’s final.

Bencic is a former world’s No. 1 junior who won Junior Wimbledon and Junior French Open titles and quickly turned pro in 2011 after her 14th birthday. She was trained by fellow Swiss Martina Hingis’ mother (Melanie Molitor) early in her career.

Sunday’s result brought tears to Jabeur’s eyes over dropping her second straight final in Charleston. She also lost last April in the final of a WTA Tour $250K event on the same court, as well as the semifinals of this tournament earlier last April.


Jabeur did everything but win. She ran down a Bencic lob and returned the ball with a between-the-legs shot at least twice. On one of those between-the-legs shots in the seventh game of the third set by Jabeur, Bencic was waiting at the net and hit a drop volley that Jabeur got to on the second bounce and flew through the air to connect with her right foot to hit the ball over the net. And topping it off, Jabeur slammed her racket to the green clay where it bounced, not once but at least three times during the match.

Yes, Jabeur wanted this one badly, enough to cry in the post-match ceremony.

But the 5-9 Bencic would not crumble. She hit backhands straight down the line for incredible winners when it seemed Jabeur had the point won.


Bencic wouldn’t let Jabeur off the hook after the 27-year-old Tunisian rallied back from 3-1 down to deadlock the third set at 3-3. Bencic came right back with back-to-back wins for 5-3 and then got a match point before Jabeur recovered to hold service in the ninth game.

There was no question about the decisive 10th  game as Bencic quickly moved to triple match point with some strong serving, and then watched Jabeur’s forehand service return sail far over the baseline to end the long match.

Of course, it wasn’t really that easy for the talented Bencic.


“I’m super relieved, just super happy,” said Bencic, who moved up eight positions to 13th in the world ranking with the title. “I’m super proud to win the first title on clay.

“I was two points away from the exit in the first round (against Xiyu Wang), and I feel like this is how you win the tournament. I’m just really relieved I served it out (the final game).

“In the second set, I think I got a little tight. And then serving it out (in the third set), I really don’t know how. Like I was so nervous. I was just like, okay, just put the serve in.

“And then somehow like my instincts, they took over, and I played those rallies and I think I played three great points, and then on match point I just kind of, yeah, put it in. And thankfully, she missed,” Bencic added.


Both players said their games were somewhat affected earlier in the match by shadows over one end of the court. “It was a big problem . . . on that side,” Bencic said about the shadows.

“I had trouble adjusting with the roof and the shades,” Jabeur said. “I couldn’t see the ball very well. I was having trouble reading the ball, especially Belinda plays kind of fast.

“I was really trying to focus on the ball, to focus on the bounce. I’m someone that needs to see the bounce of the ball.”

Jabeur, despite moving up one spot in the world rankings to ninth, called the loss one of the toughest of her career. She planned to head to Paris for a couple of days, and then on to Stuttgart, Germany, to compete in an indoor red-clay event.


Bencic was already thinking about a Sunday night meal of doughnuts. “I really want to go to  Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I really love doughnuts. I love like cheap meals, and my favorite now is for sure doughnuts because I’ve been eating like healthy, and I was looking on my diet and everything. But now it’s the time to eat something bad.”

And Bencic should be able to do just that with the $158,800 she won in the Charleston Open.

After a tight few months away from home, Bencic said, “We are flying back home tomorrow.”


James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Latest news

Karolina Pliskova Finding Her Footing With The Help Of New Coach Krajan



Karolina Pliskova (CZE) playing against Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Karolina Pliskova’s resurgence on the Tour comes at a time when she has formed a new partnership with a well-known coach. 

After her first round loss at the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina, the Czech won nine consecutive matches on the Tour. In Romania, she claimed her 17th WTA title at the Winners Open before reaching the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 event in Doha. However, she was unable to play her semi-final clash against Iga Swiatek due to a lower back injury. During this period she has improved her ranking from 77th to 36th. 

Pliskova began the season without a coach at her side but is now working with Croatia’s Zeljko Krajan. A partnership she believes is showing promising signs already. 

“Personality-wise, I think he’s kind of similar to me,” Pliskova told WTA Insider. “Not really high or low. Relaxed and very like calm. 
“We didn’t really plan yet anything because now the schedule was difficult. I might be in qualifying in Indian Wells. Maybe I enter San Diego. So I don’t really know what’s gonna be. I’m just living day by day at the moment.” 

Krajan has worked with a series of players on both the WTA and ATP Tour’s. He guided Dinara Safina to three Grand Slam finals between 2008 and 2010. He has also worked with Borna Coric, Laura Robson, Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Jankovic and Dominika cibulkova.

Pliskova, who is a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, has endured a roller-coaster journey on the Tour in recent months with mixed results. Last season she failed to win back-to-back matches at 11 consecutive tournaments. 

So how has she managed to regain her form on the Tour?

“Motivation was never really a problem for me,” Pliskova said. “If I go on the court no matter how bad or good I feel, I always want to win. I always want to compete. 
“But my game is based on confidence and I need to feel that. Even if I’m not playing well or winning many matches, I just need to find that confidence in that moment or in that game because it’s just so risky. My shots are so flat, so I go for mostly lines. If something is not going well or you start to doubt, then of course you miss a little bit. Everything is about this.”

Unseeded at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Pliskova beat China’s Zhang Shuai in the first round. She will next play Ashlyn Krueger in the second round on Tuesday.

Continue Reading


Elena Rybakina Eases Past Kasatkina To Win Abu Dhabi Open



Elena Rybakina has captured her second title of the season after beating an erratic Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Abu Dhabi Open. 

The world No.5 stormed to a 6-1, 6-4, win over the Russian in just over an hour. It is the third time in Rybakina’s career that she has beaten Kasatkina on the Tour and she now leads their head-to-head 3-2. The triumph comes a month after she won the Brisbane International, which is also a WTA 500 event. 

Rybakina’s latest match saw her capitalise on her opponent’s costly mistakes. Kasatkina struggled with her serve throughout the majority of the final and only managed to hold twice in eight attempts. Opening the door for the former Wimbledon champion who hit 17 winners against 12 unforced errors en route to victory. 

“I want to thank the fans who came this week,” said the new champion. “It has been an amazing atmosphere, especially to see flags from Kazakhstan. It means a lot, thank you so much.”

A one-sided 25-minute opening set saw Rybakina claim four straight games to clinch an early lead. During to the opener, Kasatkina only managed to win 26% of her service points. It was the fourth time in the tournament that the Kazakh had won a set by conceding two or fewer games. 

Fortunately for world No.14 Kasatkina and the crowd, there was more of a battle in the second frame. Twice in a row Rybakina worked her way to a break advantage before losing it in the following game. Then at 4-4, she dealt the decisive blow by hitting a clean forehand winner to break yet against and this time had a chance to serve for the title. With the rain starting to fall, she converted her first championship point with the help of another error from across the net. 

The defeat for Kasatkina comes a day after she came through a marathon three-hour semi-final match before criticising the WTA over their tournament scheduling. She is currently set to play in the Qatar Open with her opening match taking place tomorrow. It is the sixth time in a row she has been beaten by a top-five player on the Tour. 

“Congratulations to Elena, you’ve had a great week,” she said.
“Thanks to my team who has always been next to me. I am really proud of the job we’ve done and how we are doing. Thanks for always believing in me.”

Rybakina also referred to the demanding calendar during the trophy presentation. 

“Tough week (for Kasatkina), especially the last matches. Tomorrow there is already a match in Doha but hopefully, we will both recover and do well there. Maybe also play (against each other) in the final there,” she said. 

Unlike Kasatkina, Rybakina has a first round bye in Doha. She has now won seven WTA trophies so far in her career. 

Continue Reading


Ons Jabeur Hoping For Better Fortunes In Doha Despite Injury Concerns



Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur is optimistic that she will be ready in time to play at her next event in Doha after suffering an emotional exit from Dubai on Friday. 

The two-time Wimbledon finalist was in tears during her straight sets loss to Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals. Jabeur later revealed that her emotional reaction was linked to the reoccurrence of a knee injury in recent days which has troubled her in the past. She said the pain can differ at various tournaments but in Dubai, it was causing her significant discomfort. 

“I’m an open book, an emotional person. I like to show myself. One thing I have learned is to accept the emotion, and if I try to hide it, it will not make me feel good,” Jabeur told reporters in Doha at a pre-tournament press conference. 
“So it’s good to let it out and be done with it than to keep it inside and probably will make more problems for you later.”

Despite the setback, the world No.6 intends to play at the Doha Open which gets underway today. She will be the fourth seed in this year’s draw and will be playing in the event for the first time since 2022. Last year she was forced to skip the Middle East swing after having surgery to treat an enlarged nodule which was obstructing her airway and preventing oxygen from reaching her lungs. 

“I’m very happy to be back. I’m obviously happier than last year,” she said. “I’m glad to be united with my fans here, and hopefully it’s going be a great week for me.
“I have been struggling with the knee for a long time, and last week was very, very tough. Hopefully, I can recover in time and then play better here in Doha.”  

This time of the year has always meant a lot to the Tunisian, who has spoken on numerous occasions about her aim to inspire more players from her region to take up tennis. She is the first Arab player to reach a Grand Slam final, crack the top 10 in the WTA rankings and qualify for the season-ending Tour Finals. 

“It is very important to be here to connect with Arabic crowds. I feel so much love here in the region, and obviously, that’s one of the reasons I chose to play Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai, because I feel so good here.” She said.

Declaring she is ‘happy’ with her rhythm on the court, Jabeur will begin her campaign in Doha against either Lesia Tsurenko or Turkish wild card Zeynep Sonmez.

Continue Reading