Belinda Bencic survived 12 sets in four matches against a veritable Murderers' Row of WTA Top-10 opponents to win the second WTA Premier 5 title of her career at last week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. A former Top-10 player herself (reaching No. 7 three years ago, at the age of 18), the unseeded Bencic won the first two matches of her campaign in straight sets before prevailing in a quartet of three-set battles against No. 8 Aryna Sabalenka (Round of 16), No. 3 Simona Halep (quarterfinals), No. 6 Elina Svitolina (semis) and No. 2 Petra Kvitova (final).
Against both Sabalenka and Svitolina, the Swiss won a third-set tiebreak to advance. Bencic saved six match points against Sabalenka, ultimately taking the decisive tiebreak, 9-7. She also saved set points in the first set of her opening-round victory against Lucie Hradecka.
After making a big splash to start her career in 2015-16, Bencic struggled with injuries and briefly fell out of the Top 300 in September 2017. But she quickly re-entered the Top 100 just two months later, ending the year at No. 74. After finishing 2018 in the Top 40 and continuing to trend upwards, a return to the Top 10 is now within reach, thanks to her Dubai title.
Here’s more on the resurgent Swiss, who is planning to celebrate her first WTA Tour-level title since 2015 by skydiving.
The Belinda Bencic File
Birthplace: Flawil, Switzerland
Residence: Wollerau, Switzerland
Current Rank: 23
Career-High Rank: 7 (February 2016)
Best US Open Finish: Quarterfinals (2014)
- An early riser on the WTA Tour, Bencic won her first title in June 2015 at Eastbourne, a grass-court, WTA Premier event in the United Kingdom, by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets. Then 18, she had previously reached two WTA International finals in the past 10 months.
- Two months later, the Swiss won her first WTA Premier 5 title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Similar to her title run in Dubai, Bencic defeated four Top-10 players in that effort, taking out Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Halep en route to the biggest title of her career—now matched by Sunday’s triumph.
- After her injury woes, Bencic used the ITF Circuit and WTA 125 Series events to springboard back up the rankings. She claimed a pair of 125 titles in November 2017 and three ITF titles from 2017-18, including one on the USTA Pro Circuit at the $80,000 event in Las Vegas, to move back into the WTA's Top 40.
- Alongside Roger Federer, Bencic is a two-time defending Hopman Cup champion. The Swiss duo lifted the trophy in both 2018 and 2019. Their 2019 run was highlighted by a mixed doubles showdown against Team USA’s Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe. The group-stage match, won 4-2, 4-3, by the Swiss, featured 43 combined Grand Slam titles between Federer and Williams.
- A former junior world No. 1, Bencic was the girls' singles champion at the French Open and Wimbledon in 2013. She was also a three-time runner-up in junior Grand Slam doubles events, twice at the US Open (2012, 2013) and once at Wimbledon (2012). At the senior level, her 2014 US Open quarterfinal run at age 17 remains her best Slam result. Bencic has reached the fourth round at both the Australian Open (2016) and Wimbledon (2015, 2018).
They Said It!
“Now I'm seeing that it doesn't have to be rushed. I can take my time. I'm 21 years old. My career is so long. I only want to enjoy it. Of course, the results are very important, but it's most important that you're enjoying your work, your job, and then you can say after your career that you've been satisfied.” — Bencic told WTATennis.com, describing how her perspective has changed since her 2015 Rogers Cup title at 18.