Friday, April 8, 2022

Bencic upsets 2nd seed Badosa to reach the Charleston Open semifnals

Belinda Bencic (photo by Daniel Ward)
Eight years ago, 17-year-old Belinda Bencic and Jana Cepelova played an absolutely riveting semifinal in Charleston. Bencic had gone through qualifying and had therefore already played six matches, and Cepelova had sustained a leg injury, and also had a sore shoulder. None of that appeared to trouble them, though (the operative word being "appeared"--who can really know?), as she and Cepelova went after each other for two hours and 33 minutes.

It was a memorable match--one of the most thrilling I've ever seen in Charleston--which I covered in detail here. There were constant momentum swings, Cepelova fell down and scraped her knee, and had to have medical attention, and the tension was consistently high. Bencic saved a match point, but was ultimately defeated, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6.

Belinda Bencic (photo by Daniel Ward)

This year, the Swiss star, seeded 10th, returns to the semifinals following her upset of 2nd seed Paula Badosa in a very high-quality match that last for two hours and 47 minutes. The wind, though not unusually strong, was nevertheless a factor, which made play even more tense. Badosa took the first set 6-2, but Bencic came back strong in the second set, eventually taking a commanding lead (7-2) in a tiebreak. And while the quality of play remained high in the third set, Bencic's combination of taking the ball at lightning speed off the ground and also repeatedly showing off her deft touch allowed her to overcome her opponent 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

After the match, I talked with Belinda about that first semifinal in 2014, and she said that she remembered it well because she was so heartbroken when she lost. "I remember I lost and I just went to the clubhouse, and they had cookies, and I just took a cookie and put Nutella on it and just ate the cookie. That's what we do when we lose."

(I had to remind her that she was only 17 at the time.)

Paula Badosa (photo by Daniel Ward)

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