After years of injuries, Belinda Bencic may finally be on the road back to the top. The former Top 10 has slipped out of the Top 40, but her ranking is moving up again thanks to a huge title today in Dubai where she stunned favorite Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
The win marked Bencic’s first, and third overall, since her other Premier 5 title at Canada in 2015 when she outlasted Simona Halep.
In a loaded field, the 21-year-old beat four straight top 10 players all in three sets. She saved six match points in a final set breaker win over Aryna Sabalenka, upset Simona Halep and then won another deciding breaker over 2-time defending champion Elina Svitova yesterday.
It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible. I mean, I still cannot believe it,” Bencic said. “Especially I’m realizing after two rounds, we were already saying, ‘Wow, this is a great tournament.’ Now it’s only bonus.
“Then I won against Sabalenka after being out already. We said the same thing again. Really, the expectations after two rounds were not there anymore. So many times I was close from defeat. It’s unbelievable that I ended up winning this.”
Entering the match, Kvitova led the Swiss 3-0 winning all six of their previous sets.
“Obviously very up-and-down match,” Bencic said. “With Petra, it’s like this. She’s hitting full power, so it was incredibly tough first set, as well.
“Second set, I think I missed by little in the start of the games, then she gained a lot of confidence. She was playing great. She was serving great.
“I’m really happy about how I managed to turn the momentum around in the third set.”
Bencic, who ranked as high as No. 7 three years ago, will climb up 22 spots to No. 23 on Monday.
Kvitova was playing her third final in five events this year. She was bidding for her 27th career title and second in Dubai.
“She came strong,” the Czech said. “I came strong in the second. The third was really a bad game which I played. I don’t know. I just felt that I’m really getting better, that I’m playing better. But in the specific moment in the third set, I just didn’t do the best.
“I was still believing I could turn it around. I had the chances to take few games. But, yeah, I missed some easy shots. I wasn’t that low as I wanted to be with her playing pretty flat shots. Was really tough to not be that ready as I wish.”
Kvitova had also just beaten Bencic in Melbourne.
“I think I played better in Melbourne,” she said. “That’s I think what was the difference. I think definitely I served much, much better in Melbourne than here. Whole tournament I was pretty fighting with my serve. Wasn’t really great. I played a lot from the second serve.”
Bencic said among the celebration plans will be perhaps… skydiving!
“It’s the first thing we will do in the morning,” she said jokingly. “I’m providing a lot of heart attacks on the court. Now I’m going to provide heart attacks off the court. I mean it very seriously.”
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