Bencic Following In Legend's Footsteps

At 12 years old, Martina Hingis announced herself to the tennis world by becoming the youngest player to win a junior Grand Slam. Two decades on, one of her compatriots is tracing her footsteps.

Published June 10, 2013 12:00

Bencic Following In Legend's Footsteps
Belinda Bencic

PARIS, France - Remarkably, it is now 20 years since a precocious Martina Hingis announced herself to the tennis world at Roland Garros by becoming the youngest player to win a junior Grand Slam title.

Over the weekend another talented young Swiss player, Belinda Bencic, began tracing her footsteps, lifting the junior crown at the game's most famous clay court venue. Nationality, though, is not the only thing Bencic and Hingis have in common.

To help capitalize on her undoubted talent, Bencic and her father Ivan have enlisted the help of Hingis' mother and former coach, Melanie Molitor. And judging by the results, so far, the partnership appears to be flourishing.

Bencic has not lost a junior match all year, although she was pushed hard several times in Paris, including recovering from 4-2 down in the final set of her quarterfinal with Taylor Townsend. For the final, Bencic upped her level again to defeat doubles partner Antonia Lottner in straight sets.

Breaks in Lottner's opening two service games set the tone early on, as Bencic's fierce forehand controlled the exchanges from the back of the court. The set soon followed, and despite slipping 3-0 down in the second, she settled any potential nerves when she battled back from 0-40 to win a marathon fifth game.

This appeared to break her opponent's resolve and after little over an hour on court Bencic wrapped up a 61 63 victory.

"I didn't feel nervous at all," Bencic said. "I just played my game, and the first set I played pretty well; everything was working well.

"She started really well at the start of the second set, but I managed to come back then. I just believed in myself that I can still turn it around. And that's what happened!

"It's a real incredible feeling. After the match point, I didn't completely realize what had happened. Now I'm just going to enjoy the moment."

Although Molitor could not be there to enjoy her charge's success, luckily, her daughter was on hand.

"I know Martina quite well and, of course, she congratulated me and was very happy that I won the title she won back when she was a junior," Bencic added. "She gave me a lot of tips during the tournament and I'm very thankful that that she made the time to watch my matches."

Still just 16, Bencic's appearances on the full tour have been fleeting to date, although she has posted several encouraging results on the ITF Circuit.

"I have had some good wins in ITF events and I still haven't lost a junior match this year," she added. "So I feel very comfortable with my tennis at the moment and I think I have a lot of confidence for the rest of the season."

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