Belinda Bencic can see how chaotic the WTA Tour is. Few players can benefit more than she can in this next month of competition if she can string together some victories and post a strong set of results.
A brief look at the WTA top 25 will sufficiently explain why Bencic has such a golden opportunity in these next five weeks in Madrid, Rome and Paris.
Sunday — at the time this article is being written — isn’t even over in Madrid. (You might be reading this on a Monday or Tuesday, but I write in the present tense to convey the full effect of what I am about to say.)
What has already happened? The five players immediately ahead of Bencic in the WTA rankings are all out of the tournament.
Bencic was ranked No. 19 on Sunday.
No. 18 Elise Mertens lost. No. 17 Julia Goerges lost.
No. 16 Wang Qiang. No. 15 Anett Kontaveit. No. 14 Madison Keys. Yes, they all lost over the weekend before Monday even arrived.
The players immediately preceding Bencic are mostly gone from Madrid as well: No. 20 Garbine Muguruza and No. 21 Daria Kasatkina were bounced over the weekend. No. 23 Bianca Andreescu, who is injured, didn’t play. No. 24 Hsieh Su-Wei is out.
If you take the 11 players ranked 14-24 as a group, Bencic (19) and Caroline Garcia (22) are the only players still alive from that group, and Garcia is defending semifinal points.
More notes on the WTA top 25 relative to Madrid: With Sunday not yet over, 12 of the top 25 aren’t alive in the tournament. Andreescu and Serena Williams didn’t enter the tournament, but 10 other players — Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka, Mertens, Goerges, Wang, Kontaveit, Keys, Muguruza, Kasatkina, and Hsieh — lost their first matches.
Bencic — who won her first match in Madrid — has already gained simply by watching other players lose. Imagine what can happen if she can merely string together a few quarterfinal results in Spain, Italy and France. Then imagine if just one of those quarterfinals becomes a semifinal. Bencic would come very close to the top 10 by the end of the clay season.
The door is open for Belinda Bencic. Will she step through it?