Belinda Bencic suffered another setback in her climb back to the Top 10 as she was dumped out of the first round of Linz to Singapore-chasing Dominika Cibulkova. It was a considerably tough draw for Bencic, who has not played a great number of matches in 2016 because of the number of injuries she has experienced this season.
During the Aegon Classic event in Birmingham this year, Bencic suffered a right thigh injury against Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, which forced her to retire from that match. A right wrist injury halted her progress in Wimbledon, in which she had to call it quits vs America’s Julia Boserup. That same wrist injury subsequently led to her withdrawal from the Olympics, which would have been a great goal for Bencic to represent her country at such a young age. Luckily for Bencic, at 19 years of age, she still has time to put things right and hopefully play for an Olympic medal in years to come.
A major positive for Bencic after losing to Cibulkova is that she came through a match unscathed. Even in Asia, she was hampered by another injury, so playing a full match of tennis while feeling good about the status of he body can actually work in the favour of Bencic as she strives to regain her confidence on a tennis court.
The Swiss did not take the one-sided defeat too seriously and noted just how good Cibulkova was in Wednesday’s first round match:
“The problem is I did not play that bad and she just completely killed me. Of course I did not expect a lot, she’s a top player and she’s had a great season this year and she is still fighting for Singapore, so I did expect that she would be at her best. But me this year did not go so well and this is the last two tournaments. I really enjoy being here and I’m still in the doubles at least, but I agree it was a very tough first round. It’s a bad draw for me, but there is always next year, right?”
Despite only being a teenager, Bencic really put things into perspective and looked at the wider picture:
“Every athlete has their ups and downs and this is a big down for me. It wasn’t easy for me because I had a lot of injuries and also mentally it is not easy to come back and start to play good. I’m pretty much done mentally with this year.”
Bencic also talked about the vicious cycle that she is currently situated in. She continues to play catch up as she searches for more matches, better results, and more importantly greater fortune in regards to her physical state.
A lot has happened in Bencic’s career in a short space of time. She became a mega star on the junior tour because of her extraordinary results winning Wimbledon and Roland Garros junior titles and she is one of the rare examples in modern tennis of a teenager rising into the Top 10 of the women’s game. Bencic discussed her considerable drop in the rankings since the moment she rose to No.7 in the world:
“I mean, I dropped in the rankings as well so now, I was No.7 in world and everyone expected me to win. Now I’m No.41 in the world and no-one expects me to win. So now I can start from zero and slowly get into it and at the moment I don’t have any goal I just want to stay healthy. That is what I want the most right now.”