Belinda Bencic withdraws from the US Open as fifth top-10 star

Tennis - Like Ashleigh Barty, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and Kiki Bertens, the Swiss will not travel to the USA

by Jovica Ilic
Belinda Bencic withdraws from the US Open as fifth top-10 star

Following Ashleigh Barty, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and Kiki Bertens, world no. 8 Belinda Bencic has decided to skip the second Major of the season in New York. The last year's semi-finalist will not seek the crown at the US Open, planning to return to Rome in September.

The 23-year-old had finished the previous season in the top-10 for the first time, hoping for more good results in 2020 but failing to deliver them in the opening two months. Entering six WTA tournaments, Belinda scored only seven wins, failing to pass the quarter-final round and suffering a loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in Doha, in her last match before the coronavirus outbreak.

Last September, Bencic took down Anett Contaveit, Naomi Osaka and Donna Vekic to advance into the first Major semi-final, facing Bianca Andreescu in the battle for the final. After a fantastic encounter, Bianca prevailed 7-6, 7-5 in two hours and 12 minutes, becoming the first player since Venus Williams in 1997 who reached the US Open final on a debut.

The Swiss had a massive opportunity to win at least one set, if not score straight-sets triumph, wasting six break opportunities and a set point in the opener. Belinda squandered a 5-2 lead in set number two, dropping five straight games to push Bianca over the top and leave empty-handed and mighty disappointed despite a great run in the last two weeks.

Bianca repelled ten out of 13 break points, which kept her in contention. She scored four straight breaks on the other hand and prevailed in the pivotal moments to book the spot in the final as the first teenager since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.

The Canadian had 40 winners and 38 unforced errors, keeping the points on her racquet and drawing more mistakes from the Swiss in the second part of the second set to prevail and avoid the decider.

Belinda Bencic will not play at the US Open after reaching the semi-final a year ago.

Belinda served well in the opener and had plenty of chances to materialize the advantage and move in front, with Andreescu fending off break points in games four, six and ten (saving a set point with a brave forehand down the line winner), gaining the momentum ahead of the tie break that she won 7-3 after four mini-breaks.

After a dramatic escape, Bianca gained a 5-0 advantage in the breaker and closed it in the tenth point after 67 minutes of grueling battle. Keeping her focus, Belinda raced into a 5-2 lead in set number two thanks to three breaks, looking good to send the clash into a decider and keep title hopes alive.

Bianca had other plans, though, starting to hit with more intensity and pulling one break back in game eight when Bencic sprayed a forehand error. Andreescu forced a mistake from her opponent for a hold at 15 in the next game, reducing the gap and leveling the score at 5-5 with another break when Belinda hit a double fault.

With the momentum on her side, a teenager won 17 of 23 points from that eighth game, gaining a 6-5 advantage thanks to a backhand error from Bencic who served to stay in the match after losing four straight games. With all the pressure on her shoulders, Belinda got broken for the fourth time in a row, allowing Bianca to convert the third match point with a deep return and advance into the first Grand Slam final.

"Hi to all my Fans. I wanted to update you that I have made the difficult decision to skip the US swing in New York, returning to the tour starting in Rome next month. I would like to thank the US Open and USTA for all their work and effort they have put together to have both Cincinnati and the US Open take place this month.

I am looking forward to returning to New York next year and wish everyone competing there in the coming weeks the best of luck," Belinda Bencic said.

Ashleigh Barty Elina Svitolina Kiki Bertens