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Profile | Belinda Bencic
A future top five player in my opinion. What you need to know about the latest Swiss sensation
By Stephen Higgins | 21 July 2015
The Wimbledon fourth round encounter between Belinda Bencic and Victoria Azarenka came at an interesting point in their careers. Azarenka, a former world number one, was well on her way to recuperating both body and form.
While Bencic had just captured her first Tour title at Eastbourne, and was playing the best tennis of a nascent career.
The veteran Belarusian recognised the Swiss' threat, so made sure to find the power hitting and intensity that made her a grand slam champion. Azarenka blew Bencic away in the first set, but the 18-year-old showed some decent resilience in the second. The match finished 6-2 6-3 to Azarenka. Experience conquered youthful exuberance on this occasion.
Switzerland's latest tennis star is here for the long haul though. A young talent of poise and rare intelligence, Bencic has achieved much in little time.
Belinda Bencic was born in Flawil, Switzerland on March 10th 1997. She started playing at just two years of age under the guidance of her father Ivan.
At the age of four, she started to train at Melanie Molitor's tennis academy. Molitor, mother of Martina Hingis, has been an important influence on Bencic ever since. Martina has also played an important role, acting as a mentor.
Bencic undertook daily training with Molitor from seven onwards. Ivan's ice hockey friend Marcel Niederer helped finance Belinda's progress early on, and subsequently became her manager.
During her formative years, Bencic spent six months at the renowned IMG Nick Bolletieri tennis academy, and her promise led 11 sponsorship companies to come on board by the age of 16.
Their faith was not misplaced as the Swiss posted some outstanding results as a junior. In 2013, she won junior Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and was crowned world number one in June of that year.
The Swiss' first exposure to professional tournaments came in 2011. She found some early success the following year, when she won two ITF events at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
In 2013, alongside her success in the juniors, Bencic made good runs at ITF events, reaching the final of Makinohara, Japan and a number of semi-finals. By the end of the 2013 season, Bencic was ranked 212 in the world.
The world took real notice of the Flawil prodigy in 2014, after excellent progress at the grand slams and a string of victories over feted opponents.
At the Australian Open, Bencic made it through qualifying and won her first round match against Kimiko Date-Krumm. She lost to the defending champion Na Li in the second round, but gave a fine account of herself in the second set, only losing in a tie-break.
She backed up her performances in Melbourne with a couple of Fed Cup singles victories in Switzerland's tie against France in February. The teenager then progressed to the semis of Charleston, defeating Maria Kirilenko and Sara Errani en route.
Her best showing came at Flushing Meadows, where the then 17-year-old dispatched Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic on a run to the quarter-finals. Bencic became the youngest player to reach the the last eight of the US Open since her mentor Martina Hingis in 1997.
She topped of the season with a first final appearance at Tianjin, China, where she lost to America's Alison Riske. The Swiss duly shot up the rankings to 33, and received the WTA's Newcomer Of The Year award.
Bencic has continued to progress in 2015, finding her best results on grass. She reached a second Tour final at 's-Hertogenbosch, before claiming her first title at Eastbourne with an excellent performance in the final against Agnieszka Radwanska.
The outstanding shot in Bencic's arsenal is her two-handed backhand. It is extremely consistent, and she easily generates pace with it. Her forehand is also solid, and she takes it very early which unsettles opponents.
The Swiss is very strong mentally, displaying a relaxed demeanour on court, while possessing a sharp tennis brain. Her game is adaptable, as seen in the wind-affected Eastbourne final, and she has good variety to her play.
Bencic's main weakness is her second serve, which can sit in the box and entice opponents. Her first serve is decent, and she can extract a few aces particularly out wide on the ad side, and down the 't' on the deuce. Finally, her movement can still improve to compete with the very best.
All told, Bencic has an excellent all-round game and fine court intelligence. A place in the world's top five awaits her.