Switzerland teenager Belinda Bencic won the biggest title of her career on Sunday, defeating Simona Halep for the Rogers Cup title. But it was her win on Saturday against Serena Williams in the semifinals, which may have had a bigger impact on the WTA landscape and sent ripple effects throughout the tennis world.
Serena entered that semifinal with a singles record of 43-1 in 2015, an absolutely dominating number that illustrates her dominance over the rest of the Tour. While she has dropped her share of sets in a multitude of tournaments, including a number of first sets, her record speaks for itself.
So when Bencic won the final two sets to defeat her in their match on Saturday, it not only pushed her into the final, but demonstrated that the world number one isn’t invincible.
Former world number one Justine Henin suggested that many players simply don’t enter matches against Serena with the right mindset.
The 33-year-old Belgian said, “There are many girls that can play good tennis, but it’s not consistent enough. And I think they don’t believe enough.”
The player that sits two spots below Serena in the rankings, Simona Halep, seemed to confirm that notion when she was asked about Henin’s comments.
“She’s right,” said Halep. “Because we see Serena is winning everything and we are thinking that we cannon beat her.”
Bencic’s win, the first for a teenager against Serena since Maria Sharapova 11 years ago, will go a long way to instilling that belief in players, especially the ones at the top.
“Azarenka could probably do that, and she’s the player I see in the best position to do that,” Henin said about players who could potentially pull off the upset. “Halep is probably the girl that I appreciate the most to watch because she tries to do different things. She reminds [me of] the way I was playing a little bit.”
As we approach the U.S. Open and Serena goes for the Grand Slam, those who have to play Serena have something to fall back on. She can be beaten, but as Bencic showed, you will need to bring your “A-Game” for the full three sets.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.