Belinda Bencic, who had to retire from her last match of 2019 at the WTA Finals against Elina Svitolina, knows what it feels like to encounter rocky and difficult moments. Bencic’s uphill battle against injuries robbed her of multiple productive years on the tour. Entering this season, Bencic was No. 55 in the WTA rankings.
Many people in the global tennis community hoped she would rebound. I doubt very many people expected her ascension to be this rapid.
The year which began at No. 55 ended at the WTA Finals with a No. 8 ranking. What started in Dubai — with wins over Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, and Petra Kvitova, en route to the title — didn’t seamlessly flow through the entirety of the year, but that tournament did reannounce Bencic to the WTA Tour.
Bencic continued to reannounce her presence as the year continued — not at every tour stop, but certainly at enough of the important ones to matter.
A deep run at Indian Wells mattered. A deep run in Madrid mattered. A deep run to her first major semifinal at the U.S. Open really mattered. Her Kremlin Cup title in Moscow carried her to Shenzhen for the WTA Finals.
Though erratic and prone to stormy sequences which involved a loss of focus — think of her second-round Roland Garros match against Laura Siegemund, which she won because a postponement gave her a mental reset the following day — Bencic regrouped after she absorbed tough losses.
A higher level of consistency is waiting to be attained, but Bencic did more than she — and many of us in the pundit class — could have reasonably expected in 2019.
Bencic can now comport herself on court in 2020 (and beyond) in ways which suit a top-eight player. She can redefine how she looks at herself. She doesn’t need to take cues from anyone else.
Her presence is enough — Bencic reannounced as much in 2019.
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