For the first time since 2001, there will be a Swiss woman in the US Open semifinals.
Belinda Bencic reached the first major semifinal of her career on Wednesday afternoon, downing 23rd seed Donna Vekic 7-6(5), 6-3 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“[I’m] just very happy about it, for sure. I knew today was going to be a very difficult match. Donna is in great form now. She showed it again today,” said Bencic, who is the first woman from her country to reach the semifinals in Queens since Martina Hingis nearly 20 years ago. “I think we played a very good match with high-quality rallies. It was definitely not easy. I’m happy…I stayed calm in the important moments.”
Both players traded holds of serve through the first eight games of the match, until Vekic struck the first break, aided by a couple of Bencic double-faults, to go ahead 5-4 and serve for the set.
But the 13th seed responded, breaking Vekic back and the set headed into a tiebreak. Bencic jumped out to a 6-3 lead before the Croat saved a couple of set points on serve, but Bencic won the ensuing point to wrap up the opener.
In the second set, Bencic claimed the first break to go ahead 4-3, and continued her clutch serving to hold for 5-3. With Vekic serving to stay in the match, she would save two match points but couldn’t make it a third, as Bencic’s relentlessness was rewarded with a second break in the second set, and a spot in the US Open semifinals.
“I think it was the small points that changed the whole match. It was, of course, very tight even in the second set,” said Bencic. “I tried to put a little bit more variation in the game. I tried to play a little bit smarter. I’m happy my serve helped me in these important moments.”
In all, Bencic only surrendered one break of serve, and won 84 percent of the points on her first serve.
She awaits the winner of Wednesday night’s showdown between 15th seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada, and 25th seeded Belgian Elise Mertens.
“I’m fresh off the court. But still, it feels amazing,” added Bencic. “It’s something that, I don’t know, didn’t come from nothing. I still worked very hard for it. I feel like I deserve this. I think it’s a very nice feeling.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.