Belinda Bencic earned a berth in her first career Grand Slam semifinal Wednesday easing past Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6(5), 6-3 at the US Open. The Swiss made the quarters in New York back in 2014, this time in her first match at this round since, she got through.
“I worked hard for this – it’s not like I never imagined I could do this,” the 22-year-old Bencic said. Throughout the former junior World No.1’s years of injury woes, it was the feeling of triumph in matches like this that had kept her going: “Who doesn’t love wins?” she asked. “I mean, it’s the best feeling in the world. I think that’s why we tennis players play. For sure when you lose, it’s the worst feeling. It’s very bitter.
“What I love most is definitely the competition, these type of matches. Yeah, that feeling right after you do the match point is the nicest one.”
Vekic had a chance early serving for the first set, then she fought hard at the end.
I think we played a very good match with high-quality rallies,” Bencic added. “It was definitely not easy.
“It was small points that changed the whole match,” she said. “I tried to put a little bit more variation in the game. I tried to play a little bit smarter.”
In the evening, Bianca Andreescu set up a showdown with Bencic by defeating Elise Mertens in three sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Andreescu went down early but roared back winning 12 of the last 17 games, paced by her serve and big groundstrokes.
“I think anyone would be shocked to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam, because all of us dream of this moment ever since we’re kids, ever since we picked up a racquet,” Andreescu said. “I definitely think that I have fought really hard to get to this point, so I think I do deserve to be here and hopefully I can go all the way.”
Mertens was trying to return to her second Slam semifinal.
“She never gives up,” Mertens said. “Her serve was coming more in the second and the third set. She’s a good runner, gets the ball back, not a lot of mistakes. ”
The 19-year-old has won her last 11 matches and overall is 31-4 on the season. A year ago, the Canadian lost in the first round of the qualifying.
“If someone told me that I was going to be in the semifinals of the US Open a year ago, I would say, ‘You’re crazy,'” Andreescu added.
Also tomorrow, Serena Williams will continue her march toward a 24th Major against World No. 5 Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian knocked out Serena at the Rio Olympics back in 2016, so the American will have revenge on her mind plus an eye on history.
Then it’s Bencic and Andreescu for a spot in a first Slam final.
“I have practiced with [Bencic] once, actually in Toronto,” said Andreescu. “I found that she takes the ball really early. She likes to be very aggressive. She has a very good serve. She moves pretty well, too. So I’m going to do my best to just focus on myself mainly and just keep doing what I’m doing, because I think my game is throwing off a lot of players.”
“At this point I think anyone can win the tournament,” Andreescu stated. “The other semifinalists are incredible athletes, tennis players. So I know it’s not going to be easy tomorrow, and if I win tomorrow, in the finals, as well. So I’m just going to take in this moment now.”
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