Belinda Bencic won Monday's battle of the 17-year-olds at the Aegon Classic, seeing off Donna Vekic, 6-4, 6-4.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - Belinda Bencic opened up her grass court season in impressive fashion, defeating last year's runner-up, Donna Vekic, in the first round of the Aegon Classic.

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The Plot
Twelve months ago, Belinda Bencic followed in the footsteps of her fellow Swiss Martina Hingis by winning the Wimbledon girls' title. Nationality and junior success are not the only things that link Bencic and Hingis, though.

For the past decade, Hingis' mother and former coach, Melanie Molitor, who runs a leading tennis academy in Zürich, has coached Bencic, developing her into a tactician and ball striker eerily reminiscent of her daughter.

The Turning Point
These similarities were clear for all to see during her 6-4, 6-4 win over Vekic, which included more than a few Hingis-esque touches. Bencic's backhand was particularly impressive, and it was this wing that helped her to the decisive break at 4-4 in the first set.

She struck once more at the start of the second, the backhand again causing the damage on break point. While Vekic hung in there, breaking back for 2-2, she was not level for long, Bencic unfurling a few more delightful touches to put daylight between the two before calmly serving out for a place in the second round.

By The Numbers
From the start, Bencic showed a willingness to come forward and was particularly clinical in the forecourt, winning eight of the nine points she contested there.

"The first match on grass is always very difficult, so I'm happy to get the win," Bencic said. "I found it difficult at first and was framing a lot of balls, But I got better and was pleased with my level at the end.

"We had never played before but we're both so young it was like a junior match. It's good for women's tennis to have young players competing at this level and hopefully there will be more and more."

What's Next
Having accounted for last year's runner-up, Bencic now faces reigning champion Daniela Hantuchova. "I enjoy playing every tournament and the match today was a lot of fun," she added. "Next I have Daniela, which will obviously be very tough. I have nothing to lose so I'll just go out there and do my best."