McCarvel: Bencic's Hingis-ness
Published June 29, 2014 12:12
LONDON, England - Earlier this year in Charleston, Belinda Bencic had just made her first ever WTA semifinal as she climbed a set of concrete stairs with a pipe dripping overhead.
"OK, so this is the WTA world feed," the press handler explained. "Here you'll do an on-camera interview that will be sent to TV stations around the world."
A wide-eyed Bencic sat down in a folding chair, a spotlight on her, and answered questions in both English and German.
"How did I do?" she asked after.
Friday afternoon Bencic sat wide-eyed once again, this time in front of a packed interview Room 2 at Wimbledon, the 17-year-old having booked a place in the Wimbledon third round by defeating Vicky Duval just a year on from her junior win here.
It was 17 years ago that a 16-year-old from Switzerland won the title here at The All England Club, when Bencic was just four months old. That player was Martina Hingis, who has sat courtside at Bencic's matches this week in the player box.
Bencic lost on a rain-soaked afternoon Saturday at Wimbledon, but the World No.71 has a special connection with the Hingis family: Martina's mom, Melanie Molitor, has worked as a consultant with her since she was a little girl, the age of 4.
"She helps me a lot," an earnest yet quipped Bencic to reporters of Molitor. "She always gives me tips; things I should watch for from my opponent."
The Swiss tennis torch has been carried high by Roger Federer (and recently, by Stan Wawrinka too) over the last decade as Hingis stepped away from the singles game in full. But there is a great tradition in that country for champions, Hingis and former Top 10 player Patty Schnyder having been the last Swiss ladies to reach the third round of Wimbledon in 2007 before Bencic did it herself this week.
"I'm motivated that Switzerland is thinking this of me," Bencic said, her dad Ivan looking on during her press conference. "I'm really motivated to do better."
As much as Bencic hits a steady and strong ball, her game has been applauded for its diversity, her all-around craftiness and, well, its Hingis-ness.
"We are also in touch here," Bencic confirmed of Hingis. "We talk with each other."
Bencic could become a regular inside the Top 50 - much sooner than expected. Few teens on the WTA have had notable success since Hingis.
"I don't really try to let the pressure come to me," Bencic said of the growing attention. "I just focus on the tennis. It just motivates me that the people believe in me."
"I think I can be really happy with this week. I reached third round. It's my best result so far. So I'm happy with that, but obviously I will keep improving."