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

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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.

NO CAKEWALK TO VICTORY

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.

EVERYTHING BUT WIN

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 KEPT JABEUR AT BAY

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.

JUST PUT THE SERVE INTO PLAY

“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.

SHADOWS CAUSED PROBLEMS FOR BOTH

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.

DOUGHNUTS ON TAP

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.”

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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. 

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WIMBLEDON: Simona Halep Impresses After Troublesome Physical, Mental Battle

2022 has been far from straightforward for the Romanian but she is seeing light at the end of the tunnel at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

For Simona Halep reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon is an achievement in itself after her recent misfortunes. 

 

It all began at the Italian Open last year where she sustained a calf injury that would force her to miss two major events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Recovering from the setback was far from simple for the former world No.1 who soon found herself struggling mentally to the extent that she considered walking away from the sport altogether.

However, she managed to regain her desire and passion for tennis with the help of Patrick Mouratoglou who has officially been her coach since April. Halep continues to work her way back to top shape and her form at Wimbledon proves perseverance pays off. 

Playing her fourth round match against fourth seed Paula Badosa, Halep stormed to an emphatic 6-1, 6-2, win in just over an hour. She dropped only two points behind her first serve and hit 17 winners against just nine unforced errors. It is the third time this year she has beaten a top 10 player after previously beating Badosa on another occasion, as well as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“It means a lot that I’m back in the quarterfinals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said Halep.
“I’m working hard every day. I feel like if I do that, I will get better. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. I’m really confident. It’s a pleasure to be on the court.”
“I think this helps me a lot to be able to do my best tennis. And everything comes together. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally.”

Speaking openly about her previous struggles, injury and confidence are two very different issues to deal with. But which one of those was the most difficult?

“It started with the injury, so I was not able to play for three, four months. Then I also lost the confidence, the belief that I can be good again, at the top. And I struggled for a long period,” she continued.
“But now it’s past. I’m here. I’m playing well. I’m feeling good on the court. So this is the most important thing, and I just want to focus on that.”

It is by no means a coincidence that Halep is thriving at Wimbledon considering her previous record. It was in 2019 when she produced a stunning display against Serena Williams to capture the title. Becoming the first and only player from her country to claim the women’s singles title. She has also reached the quarter-finals on three other occasions prior to this year.

“Grass is not an easy surface and you have to really connect with it. You have to get used to it.” Said Halep.
“I like it because it’s fast. I feel it. I feel stable on my feet. My legs are pretty strong for this surface. I feel my game fits it.”

As the only former Grand Slam champion left in the draw, Halep’s next test will be against Amanda Anisimova who defeated Harmony Tan 6-2, 6-3, in her fourth round match.

“I’m here to play as I did today, to focus on myself,” she states.
“I’m sure that I can play good tennis again. But it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. I’m ready for it and I’m looking forward to it.”


Halep recently crushed Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, at the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. 

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‘She Got lucky’ – Jelena Ostapenko Has Dig At Opponent After Wimbledon Exit

The top 20 star was also not happy with the umpire following her latest loss.

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Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) - Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Former Grand Slam champion Jelena Ostapenko believes her exit from Wimbledon was nothing but a stroke of bad luck after criticizing her match umpire.

 

Ostapenko, who was the 12th seed in the tournament, fell 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, to Germany’s Tatjana Maria. The clash was a frustrating encounter for the Latvian who had an array of chances to establish a strong lead. After winning the opener, she boasted a break advantage in each of the next two sets before losing them. Then at 5-4 in the third, she failed to convert two match points before losing the final two games of the match.

“I thought it was like my match. I had to win it and she got just so lucky in some moments so she could come back. I felt I was the player who had to win this match today,” said Ostapenko.

Claiming that she felt she was playing at a better level than Maria,  Ostapenko has taken a swipe at the match official for making in her view ‘a huge mistake.’   She is not the first player to criticize the court officials with Nick Kyrgios expressing his frustration about them multiple times at the tournament.

“She got lucky, she framed it, put the ball on the line,” she commented on how her match ended. “Then the chair umpire made a huge mistake on 5-All in the third set when it was breakpoint on my serve and I had no challenges left. People who watched the match texted me that it was quite big out.”
“All those small things together, they come and you can lose such a match. Of course, I’m really disappointed because if I lost against an amazing player who just beat me in a great match, but I just lost my match.”

A win would have elevated Ostapenko into the last eight of a major for the first time since Wimbledon 2018. The 25-year-old is currently ranked 17th in the world but has been as high as fifth before.

It was visible how annoyed she was with the match immediately afterward when she threw her water bottle onto her chair out of anger, knocking it out. Prompting an inevitable reaction of boos from the crowd.

“I’m an emotional player. I hate losing because I’m such a competitive person,” said Ostapenko.
“So I think it’s normal. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t have done this, but it’s easy to say from the outside when you are not in my place, it’s easy to judge.”

As for Maria, she will play compatriot Jule Niemeier in the quarter-finals. 

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Who Is Marie Bouzková? Six Things To Know About The Wimbledon Quarter-Finalist

After previously never going beyond the second round of a major, the Czech is making a name for herself at The All England Club.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech Republic’s Maria Bouzkova has broken new ground at Wimbledon by reaching the quarter-finals on Sunday. 

 

Coming into the tournament, the 23-year-old has failed to win back-to-back matches in 12 Grand Slam appearances. However, the past week has seen her breakthrough with a surprise run to the quarter-finals. She secured a place in the last eight with a 7-5, 6-2, win over France’s Caroline Garcia. The player who defeated Emma Raducanu in the second round.

In her latest match, Bouzkova was by far the most consistent player on the court as she produced just four unforced errors against 13 winners. In comparison, Garcia’s tally was 25 against 24. She broke the Frenchwoman four times in the match en route to victory. 

“I don’t know how I got here,” said Bouzkova.
“Now we will celebrate with strawberries and cream. It’s one of our 100 routines at Wimbledon.”

Bouzkova’s run at Wimbledon has brought the Czech into the limelight for the first time. Although some may not be too familiar with the right-hander who plays with a two-handed backhand. Here are five things to know about the underdog. 

  1. As a junior, she won the 2014 US Open title and reached the final of the Wimbledon doubles event that same year. 
  2. Wimbledon is where Bouzkova won her first Grand Slam main draw match back in 2019 after defeating Mona Barthel in the first round. 
  3. Prior to Garcia, she defeated Danielle Collins, Ann Li and Alison Riske-Amritraj this week. Collins was the sixth top 20 player she has defeated and second this year after Karolina Pliskova.
  4. She was ranked as low as 97th in the world earlier this season but is currently up to 66. Her career-best is 46. 
  5. Has reached three WTA finals in as many years in Guadalajara (2022), Melbourne 250 (2021) and Monterey (2020).
  6. She has a win-loss record of 18-9 so far this season. Although prior to Wimbledon, she has not won any matches on the grass after losing in the first round of Eastbourne to Shelby Rogers. 

Bouzkova will play either second seed Ons Jabeur or Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals.

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