Well hello there… that was quite a result to wake up to this morning! Belinda Bencic upset Serena Williams in the second of the 2015 Rogers Cup semi-finals, 3-6 7-5 6-4. I wish I could watch back the whole match but time is against me today. Bencic twice failed to serve out the match but then played a *tremendous* return game to break Serena and claim the biggest win of her career. There were very touching scenes at the end as Belinda couldn’t quite believe what she had done… also, where did those fireworks come from?!
Bencic has had a magnificent run in Toronto with wins over Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic AND Serena Williams. You’d be hard pushed to find a better slate of players in a draw path in terms of the quality but also the variety of game styles. I love that Belinda has such belief in herself and wasn’t overrawed by the fact that she was playing the world number one. When Serena mounted the comeback to get back to 4-5 in the third set and then dished out an ace on the first point it was hard to imagine that Belinda could come back from that… but she did… and in style.
Bencic plays Simona Halep in the final. If she were to prevail this would have to be one of the most perfect WTA draw paths ever!
After a rough couple of months, Halep has seen a return to form in Toronto where she is into her first final since winning the Premier Mandatory event at Indian Wells. Halep’s form since Miami had been disappointing when compared to the lofty standards she had set herself over the past year and a half. Her game never took off during the clay court season and confidence seemed to be an all-time low when she was bundled out of Wimbledon by Jana Cepelova in the very first round. When Halep stepped onto the court to play Jelena Jankovic in her first match of the week in Toronto, it had been well over a month since she had played competitive tennis. She looked fresh and rejuvenated as she secured her first win since Birmingham, a 6-3 6-3 victory over JJ.
Halep had a pair of three set victories over Angelique Kerber (6-3 5-7 6-4) and Agnieszka Radwanska (0-6 6-3 6-1), and then defeated Sara Errani in a hard fought semi-final, 6-4 6-4. Errani started brightly but made far too many errors to be in real contention. She battled hard but Halep’s better serving and use of angles helped her reach a first final in Canada. While the draw has been tricky since the first match, it’s been a favourable one for Halep in the sense that she hasn’t come up against a really aggressive hitter with the potential to blow her off the court. I’ll be the first to say I didn’t expect this run from Halep after such a dire few months; she’s really shown character to come through and her reactions after winning each match show how much these wins mean to her.
In their only previous match, Halep defeated Bencic, 6-4 6-1 at Wimbledon. Bencic has an alarmingly good record at overturning losses against the best players on tour. She’s now done it against Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Lisicki and Serena with the last three just at this tournament. Halep’s had a gruelling week and she said in her post-match interview after defeating Errani that she felt “completely dead now”. You get the impression that she honestly didn’t expect this to happen this week.
Bencic will be equally fatigued, both physically and mentally but she is on a ROLL. I’d fancy this to go three sets. The safe pick is Halep in three sets with all the experience but it does have that feeling of a fairytale run where everything goes out the window. For me, it will all depend on how Bencic recovers mentally from that win over Williams because this is a very quick turnaround against an opponent with a completely different game style.
Head says Simona, heart says Belinda.