Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bride of Chucky

One can argue that Belinda Bencic had a relatively easy time of it in today's Eastbourne final because two of her opponents (Genie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki, who retired after just three games) had retired in mid-match. You can also argue that she had a difficult time of it because she was playing with a knee injury. Or you can also say "that's tennis" and look at what happened.

Bencic, claiming her first WTA title, not only beat Aga Radwanska, who is superb on grass (and any surface, for that matter), but played a 6-0 third set against her. Throughout the match, Bencic, to some degree, actually outplayed Radwanska at her own game, finding the wickedest of angles on the court to ruin what looked like Radwanska winners. She engaged Radwanska in very long rallies, but while those kinds of rallies almost always favor The Ninja, today was different.

Both women wound up with a positive winner to unforced error ratio, with Radwanska actually hitting more winners (about three times as many as we expect from her). If you look at those stats, you assume Radwanska won. But now there are two official "Swiss Misses"--the irrepressible Timea Bacsinszky and 18-year-old Bencic, who played today in her third WTA final.

Bencic comes from the tennis "bloodline" of the clever Melanie Molitor, who coached Martina Hingis to greatness, and who still sometimes coaches Bencic. Great things have been expected from the young Swiss for a while, and today marked the beginning of those great things.

Her luck isn't too good going into Wimbledon, however. Bencic's first round opponent is Tsvetana Pironkova, one of the last players anyone wants to see on the other side of the net on the lawns of the All England Club. Pironkova is actually somewhat of a magic monster at Wimbledon, and will give Bencic all she can handle.

As for Radwanska, her first round is no walk in the park, either. She faces huge server (and much improved player) Lucie Hradecka. However, Hradecka has never gone beyond the first round at Wimbledon, and it's unlikely that she will do so this year.

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