Charleston | Bencic bags first clay court title after battling past Jabeur 

Belinda Bencic won her first clay court title when she battled past Ons Jabeur, 6-1 5-7 6-4, to win the Credit One Charelston Open on Sunday.

I think Ons, she took everything from me today. And at some point I just really didn’t know what to do anymore, and I think she played great in the second set… I was just trying to fight every point. It means a lot, and especially this is the 50th anniversary of [the tournament], and it makes me so happy that I am among those names, especially when I saw yesterday all the former champions. Belinda Bencic

It was a technical upset by the 10th seed from Switzerland, who had to dig deep to overcome the Tunisian 4th seed after 2 hours and 35 minutes.

“You took everything out of me today,” Bencic told Jabeur during the trophy ceremony. “This tournament deserved two winners.”

Bencic also expressed gratitude to her support staff, after showing her frustration to them during Sunday’s final.

“They have to endure a lot with me,” she said with a smile. “Sometimes I can be a real pain.”

The reigning Olympic champion looked to be on course for a brisk victory after racing through the first set against an apparently out-of-sorts Jabeur, the World No 10, but the Tunisian then found her range in the second to force the decider.

Bencic, however, got back on track in the third, dramatically improving her first-serve percentage to put Jabeur on the defensive, and wrapped up the victory.

Jabeur, shedding tears after the match, having now lost 4 out of her 5 WTA finals admitted: “I told myself not to cry, but it’s very tough. Many finals we lost now but, hopefully, it’s going to come soon.”

While Jabeur was seeking her 2nd WTA title after winning Birmingham last summer, for Bencic, it was her 6th career title, and the first since winning the Olympic gold medal last summer.

Bencic is also the first Swiss woman to triumph at the prestigious WTA 500 event since former World No 1 Martina Hingis captured the crown in 1999.

“Super proud to win the first title on clay,” Bencic said. “I think it was a week where I was fighting.

“I was two points away from the exit in the first round, and I feel, like, this is how you win the tournament.

“I’m just really relieved I served it out.

“I think Ons, she took everything from me today. And at some point I just really didn’t know what to do anymore, and I think she played great in the second set… I was just trying to fight every point.

“It means a lot, and especially this is the 50th anniversary of [the tournament], and it makes me so happy that I am among those names, especially when I saw yesterday all the former champions.”


Ons Jabeur fought hard but could not get past Belinda Bencic in Sunday's final

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Bencic, who battled COVID earlier in the season, broke the Tunisian 7 time in 19 tries, and for a final time to lead 4-3 in the third as she picked up the 29th Top 10 win of her professional career.

The Swiss did not face a break point in the first set but, after Jabeur fell behind by a break in the opening game of the second, the Tunisian struck back, firing a forehand winner cross-court to earn her first break of the match.

The contest was evenly-balanced from there, with Jabeur saving 2 break points before gritting out a critical hold for 6-5 and she was then rewarded for her persistence when she slammed a forehand winner down the line to break again in the next game, swiping the set.

Bencic moved ahead for good in the unpredictable decider after her superb groundstrokes gave her a break for 4-3.

Although the Swiss did not convert her first championship point on Jabeur’s serve at 5-3, Bencic was untroubled when serving for the title, closing out the match with a dominant love hold.

Before this week, Bencic was just 1-4 against Top 10 opposition on clay, but she added two Top 10 wins in Charleston against Paula Badosa in the quarter-finals and Jabeur on Sunday.

With the title, Bencic, a former World No 4, rises from No 21 to 13 in the new rankings this week, while Jabeur moves up one place, from 10 to 9.

Both now head to Europe for the red clay.


Andreja Klepac & Magda Linette defeated Sania Mirza & Lucie Hradecka in the Charleston doubles final

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In the doubles final, No 4 seeds Andreja Klepac & Magda Linette were pushed to the limit before taking the title over Czech Lucie Hradecka & Sania Mirza from India, 6-2 4-6 [10-7].

Slovenia’s Klepac & Linette from Poland played together for the first time this week, and it proved to be an auspicious team debut, capped by victory in the 1-hour and 24-minute final.

Doubles World No 13 Klepac has now won 11 Hologic WTA Tour doubles titles in her career.

“Feeling very happy, of course,” Klepac said afterward. “First time playing with Magda, and winning the tournament, I think the result is everything.”

For Linette, a memorable week in Charleston ends with her first WTA doubles title.

The Pole also made the singles quarter-finals this week, which was marked by a brilliant yet gruelling Thursday, when she won back-to-back 3-setters over Canada’s Leylah Fernandez and Kaia Kanepi from Estonia.

“I was twice in [previous doubles] finals, so I’m so happy I got a partner that helped me to win the first title,” said Linette.

Klepac & Linette were naturally tested by former Top 5 doubles player Hradecka and former Doubles World No 1 Mirza, who have a combined 69 doubles titles between them.

Hradecka & Mirza came back from 3-7 down to level the match-tiebreak at 7-7, but Klepac & Linette reeled off the last 3 points of the encounter.




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