Berlin | Jabeur claims title after Bencic retires hurt

Top seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia claimed the bett1open trophy at the WTA 500 tournament in Berlin on Sunday after Olympic champion Belinda Bencic was forced to retire in the final after twisting her left ankle.

I won’t talk about myself, because I don’t want to take a moment that matters to you. You’ve earned this title, you’re playing the best tennis of your life and I hope you can continue to do so in the coming weeks. Belinda Bencic

Bencic slipped at the end of the first set and despite receiving treatment, she eventually retired with Jabeur leading 6-3, 2-1.

“From what I know of Belinda, she would have taken me to three sets today,” said Jabeur, who wished her opponent a speedy recovery with Wimbledon due to start in a week’s time. “The most important thing, for me, is that she is okay.”

The champion also praised her team and the Tunisian supporters in her speech during the trophy presentation.

Classy Bencic refused to talk about herself on court, or to take anything away from Jabeur, saying the Tunisian deserved the Berlin title.

“I won’t talk about myself, because I don’t want to take a moment that matters to you,” Bencic told Jabeur during the on-court trophy presentation. “You’ve earned this title, you’re playing the best tennis of your life and I hope you can continue to do so in the coming weeks.”

Later Bencic said: “I just slipped, not sure how. I feel it’s something in my ankle, achilles. I’m going to evaluate it with the doctors, go home and rest.

“It was a very positive week. My tennis was great. I’m happy with my level.

“I played maybe one match too much. Four heavy 3-setters, maybe, didn’t help my legs to be steady today, but I’m really happy with this tournament, I’m really happy with my level, and sometimes this happens.

“It’s kind of for sure a bittersweet moment.”

Ons Jabeur was quick to go to the aid of Belinda Bencic, who received medical treatment during the final in Berlin on Sunday after turning her ankle in the final

© Tobia Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

Behind fierce forehands, Jabeur raced out to a 3-0 lead, but Bencic got back on serve to pull to 4-3, before the Tunisian played a stunning game to break again, firing deft lobs and consistently grazing the sideline to take a 5-3 lead.

Bencic held 4 break points to get back on serve in the next game, but Jabeur fended each of them off and, on the 4th deuce of the game, the Swiss ran wide to her forehand and went over on her ankle while returning serve.

Falling to the ground, Bencic looked in trouble, and Jabeur immediately ran to her aid and helped her to the chair where she took an immediate medical time-out.

After having the ankle strapped, Bencic returned to play but Jabeur served out the first set.

Contesting the first 3 games of the second before getting broken for 2-1, the Olympic gold medalist decided to quit, not wanting to risk aggravating the injury any further.

Belinda Bencic looks on as Ons Jabeur raises the bett1open trophy in Berlin

© Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images

After winning the 3rd WTA title of her career, with previous titles coming on the grass last year in Birmingham and on clay in Madrid last month, Jabeur now goes to Eastbourne as the No 2 seed in singles and to play doubles with Serena Williams this coming week.

Despite not winning Berlin, Bencic is pleased with her German campaign, having successfully defended the ranking points she won last year as the Berlin runner-up.

She won 4 matches in 3 sets to make the final, but playing 3 very physically demanding matches left its toll on the Swiss, who now hopes to head to Wimbledon with two tournaments played on grass.

In the opening week of the grass court season, Bencic reached the ‘s-Hertogenbosch semi-final and now can take a week to get some rest and treatment on the ankle.

Although the circumstances were unfortunate, Jabeur becomes the only player other than World No 1 Iga Swiatek and this week’s Birmingham champion Beatriz Haddad Maia to claim multiple titles this season, and she now rises to a new career-high ranking of World No 3.

Storm Sanders (L) & Katerina Siniakova won the doubles trophy after defeating Alizé Cornet & Jil Teichmann in the final

© Boris Streubel/Getty Images

In the doubles final, No 1 seeds Australia’s Storm Sanders & Katerina Siniakova from Czech Republic took the bett1open title on Sunday, defeating the unseeded pair of France’s Alizé Cornet & Jil Teichmann from Switzerland, 6-4 6-3.

Sanders & Siniakova won 34 of their 40 service points (85 percent) to ease to victory in an hour and 10 minutes.

Siniakova, who finished last year as the WTA Doubles World No 1, is up to 17 career doubles titles, and she is 8-0 in her last 8 doubles finals, while for Sanders, it marks her 4th career doubles title and 2nd of the year while propelling the Aussie to a career-high ranking of World No 12.



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